Bigfork Elementary School
Speech & Language
What is Speech-Language Therapy?
Speech-language therapy is the treatment for kids with speech and/or language disorders. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.
More Information on Speech and Language Disorders
Speech Disorders include the following problems, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):
Articulation disorders include difficulties producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that other people can’t understand what’s being said.
Fluency disorders include problems such as stuttering, the condition in which the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages, repetitions (st-st-stuttering), or prolonging sounds and syllables (ssssstuttering).
Resonance or voice disorders include problems with the pitch, volume, or quality of the voice that distract listeners from what’s being said. These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for the child when speaking.
Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders include difficulties with eating and swallowing.
Language is considered to be a system of communicating with other people for using sounds, symbols, and words in expressing a meaning, idea, or thought. Language can be in many forms, including oral and written communications and expressions through body language.
Language can be broken down into three parts:
Pragmatics (Social Language)
Expressive Language: is the ability to express oneself. This usually refers to language expression through speech, but it also includes gestures, sign language, use of a communication board, written language, and other forms of expression used to communicate with others.
An individual with an expressive language deficit may:
*Have limited vocabulary skills
*Have deficits in expressive grammar
*Have difficulty forming clear thought and complete sentences
Receptive Language: is the ability to comprehend information both through spoken and written form. It may include understanding of vocabulary, concepts and oral directions as well as an individual’s ability to listen to and recall information, sequence information, and recall information from text.
An individual with a receptive language deficit may:
*Have difficulty following directions
*Have decreased comprehension of questions
*Have limited understanding of vocabulary
*Have poor understanding of grammatical markers
Pragmatic Language: refers to the rules of social language that encompasses using appropriate language, changing language to meet the needs of the listeners and following rules for conversation.
An individual with a pragmatic language deficit may:
*Demonstrate poor turn taking in conversation
*Not know how to initiate play/conversation with peers and/or adults
*Not use politeness markers
*Have difficulty expressing emotion
Specialists in Speech-Language Therapy
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), often informally known as speech therapists, are professionals educated in the study of human communication, its development, and its disorders. They hold at least a master’s degree and state certification/licensure in the field, as well as a certificate of clinical competency from ASHA.
By assessing the speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing skills of children, speech-language pathologists can identify types of communication problems and the best way to treat them.
SLPs treat problems in the areas of articulation; dysfluency; oral-motor, speech, and voice; and receptive and expressive language disorders.
In speech-language therapy, an SLP will work with a child one-to-one, in a small group, or directly in a classroom to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder.
Therapists use a variety of strategies, including:
Language intervention activities: In these exercises an SLP will interact with a child by playing and talking. The therapist may use pictures, books, objects, or ongoing events to stimulate language development. The therapist may also model correct pronunciation and use repetition exercises to build speech and language skills.
Articulation therapy: Articulation, or sound production, exercises involve having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables for a child, often during play activities. The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child’s specific needs. The SLP will physically show the child how to make certain sounds, such as the “r” sound, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds.
Oral motor/feeding therapy: The SLP will use a variety of oral exercises, including facial massage and various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises, to strengthen the muscles of the mouth. The SLP may also work with different food textures and temperatures to increase a child’s oral awareness during eating and swallowing.