Speech Therapy: What It Is & How It Works

Astitva Speech Theraphy blog
Children accomplish a lot in their early years. They crawl, walk, talk and socialize. But some kids have trouble reaching certain developmental milestones.

A therapist can teach you techniques to help your child grow their language skills. Kids who get the most out of therapy are those with parents that are engaged and work with their therapists at home.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is a type of treatment that can help children with speech and language disorders. It works by using therapeutic exercises and activities to address each child’s specific issue. These may include articulation therapy, where they will work on the way their mouth, teeth, and tongue move to produce different sounds. They may also use VitalStim, which is an electrical stimulation technique that can help improve muscle movement around the mouth and throat.

For infants and toddlers who aren’t talking at the expected age, a speech therapist may try to motivate them by playing games with them. Some therapists will even withhold their favorite toy until the child asks for it, which can be a big motivator for small children.

A speech therapist can also help adults who have had strokes and other types of cognitive impairments, like aphasia and dysarthria, by teaching them alternative ways to communicate. This can help them regain their quality of life and re-engage with family members, friends, and colleagues. It can also slow the progression of degenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s and ALS, that affect the voice and motor skills.

How Does Speech Therapy Work in Kids?

While we tend to think of speech therapy as focusing on the actual act of speaking, it is much more than that. A speech therapist will work with kids who have language disorders as well as those who are non-verbal.

If your toddler is not talking like they should be at their age or if they seem to not understand what you are asking them, it could be time for a speech therapy session. Children should be able to understand about 50 words by the age of 2. Anything less might be worth a visit to a speech therapist.

During speech therapy sessions, the therapist will work with your child on different techniques that will improve their speech muscles. They will go over letter sounds and words and practice how to pronounce them correctly. They will also work on the quality, volume and pitch of a child’s speech. This is a great way to help with things such as articulation disorders, lisps or even difficulty swallowing and chewing which can affect feeding.

While it can be scary to bring your child in for a speech therapy session, it is always better to err on the side of caution and get them checked out. You never know what they may need to be able to communicate with you and their peers.

What is the Goal of Speech Therapy?

The goal of speech therapy is to help people with speech disorders or communication problems. This includes children with cleft lip or palate and adults with stroke, brain injury, traumatic head trauma, or other neurological conditions that affect the ability to speak and swallow.

Speech therapy can improve pronunciation and strengthen the muscles used to speak. It can also teach alternative ways to communicate, such as using sign language or tapping on someone’s shoulder to get their attention. In addition, it can treat fluency disorders, such as stuttering or cluttering, and resonance disorders, which may be caused by health conditions like a cleft palate or enlarged tonsils.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Find a Professional tool can help you find a certified speech-language pathologist in your area. If you have a medical condition, prescribed speech therapy is typically covered by statutory health insurance (in Germany this is known as Individual Health Care Services or IGeL). Unprescribed treatments are often available for an additional cost. If you decide to undergo speech therapy, your therapist will create a personalised treatment plan that may include techniques and exercises like language practice and pronunciation exercises, as well as swallowing and voice exercises.

How Long Will Speech Therapy Take?

It is difficult to predict the duration of speech therapy, as there are many factors that will affect how quickly and effectively it works. The severity of the communication challenge, the area being addressed (articulation, voice, or fluency) and even the engagement level of the patient will all play a part in how much progress is made.

Children with a variety of conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, hearing impairments or developmental delays may require more extensive treatment than children with a single condition such as an articulation disorder or stuttering. Likewise, the intensity of speech therapy sessions and how regularly these are attended will also affect the results.

Ultimately, it is important for parents to be aware of these factors when planning and setting expectations, but not get too caught up on timelines. Instead, focusing on making measurable progress and celebrating every improvement, no matter how small, will help to keep both child and parent motivated throughout the process. The consistency of practice and the reinforcement of skills outside of speech therapy sessions will also have a significant impact on how quickly results are seen.

How Can I Help My Child with Speech Therapy?

In many cases, the best way to help your child is to make sure they participate in therapy at home. Your SLP can show you exercises that you can do with your child to encourage their communication skills. It’s also important to play games with your children that involve verbal interactions and articulation practice. Children are more likely to engage in these activities if they’re fun and interesting, so try to incorporate them into your everyday play.

Children who have speech delays may also benefit from working on other aspects of their language development, such as writing and reading. Many communities offer early intervention services that can help your child develop strong language skills, and you can find a local SLP by searching our directory.

If you suspect your child has a speech disorder, speak with your pediatrician to share developmental milestones and learn more about when it’s appropriate to see an SLP. Then choose an SLP who can treat your child’s specific speech issues. It’s helpful to start with the most significant speech disorder first, such as a speech delay or an articulation issue.