Speech therapy activities can help your child

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If your child is having speech problems, act now.
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What a difference speech therapy activities can make

In a recent parent-teacher conference, your child's teacher may have expressed concern that your child may possibly have a problem with certain speech or language skills. Or perhaps while talking to your child, you noticed an occasional stutter. You're not sure that your child has a problem - what should you do? If you are not sure, but you do sense that something in your child's speech is not quite right, the prudent course of action is to intervene quickly.

A speech-language evaluation conducted by a certified speech-language pathologist can help determine if your child has a speech problem, the nature of the problem and recommendations for speech therapy activities to assist your child in overcoming his or her problems.

Speech-language therapy is the treatment for most children 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.

According to an article posted on, speech disorders include the following problems, described by Diane Paul-Brown, PhD, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):

1) 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.

2) 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).

3) Resonance or voice disorders include problems with the pitch, volume, or quality of a child's voice that distracts listeners from what's being said.

These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for the child when speaking. Language disorders can be either receptive or expressive. Receptive disorders refer to difficulties understanding or processing language. Expressive disorders include difficulty putting words together, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), who are 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 the American Speech-Hearing-Association.

By assessing the speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing skills of children and adults, speech-language pathologists can determine what types of communication problems exist and the best way to treat these challenges with speech therapy activities tailored to meet your child's specific needs. Therapy should begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early in their development (younger than 3 years) tend to have better outcomes than children who begin therapy later. This does not mean that older children can't make progress in therapy; they may progress at a slower rate because they often have learned patterns that need to be modified or changed.

Speech-language therapy involves having a speech-language specialist work with a child on a one-to-one basis, in a small group or directly in a classroom, to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder. Speech-language therapy uses a variety of speech therapy activities - These exercises involve having a speech-language specialist interact with a child by playing and talking to him. 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, or sound production, speech therapy 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. Articulation therapy involves physically showing a child how to make certain sounds, such as the "r" sound. A speech-language therapist may demonstrate how a child should move his tongue to produce specific sounds.

The speech therapist will also advise you on the proper speech therapy activities that you can do at home with your child. Speech-language experts agree that parental involvement is crucial to the success of a child's progress in speech or language therapy. Parents are an extremely important part of their child's therapy program. Parents help determine whether their child's experience in speech-language therapy is a success. Children with involved parents are those who complete the program the fastest and with the most lasting results. The process of overcoming a speech or language disorder may take some time and effort, so it's important that all family members be patient and understanding with the child and assist in the speech therapy activities recommended by the therapist.

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