What Is Speech Therapy?

A frequent question I hear is...”what is speech therapy anyway?” Well...the answer to this question is actually quite complicated! Speech therapy is a broad term. I'll briefly overview different types of speech therapy here.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy is a very broad and general term. Technically, it should be called speech, language, social language, and swallowing therapy.

Below is a brief overview of different types of therapy and what to expect.

Articulation Therapy

Articulation therapy is usually the type of speech therapy that most people think of when considering speech therapy.

A child who has an articulation disorder, apraxia of speech, or a phonological disorder attends speech therapy.

Speech therapy or articulation therapy works on the pronunciation of words. Typically, a child first learns how to say a sound. Next, he practices saying that learned sound in words. Last, he practices saying that sound in sentences and in conversation.

Once a child learns to say a sound correctly, he or she then needs to create a good habit of saying that sound automatically (without thinking about it).

A home program with SHORT, DAILY practices is IMPERATIVE. Read more at Delayed Speech: What can I do at home?

Practices may include naming pictures, saying words in a sentence, or practicing a sound during a short activity (i.e., breakfast).

Click here, word lists, for home ideas for all sounds.

Language Therapy

A child with a specific language impairment, delayed expressive or receptive language skills, language processing disorder and/or a language learning disorder attends language therapy.

This is a very diverse area and therapy will greatly depend on the evaluation results of an initial assessment.

Goals:

Therapy may target how a child understands language or how well a child expresses themselves.

A young child may work on vocabulary development, grammar skills, and/or following directions.

An older child may work on oral or written grammar, answering questions, creating oral narratives, understanding stories, following complex directions, learning vocabulary, figurative language, word retrieval skills...to name a few.

Therapy:

A younger child will PLAY while in therapy. It has been proven that children learn BEST from meaningful play. Read more at speech therapy for toddlers.

For an older child, therapy will look more like school. Goals should relate to school outcomes and the curriculum.

Remember that language is VERY complex and language skills evolve and build as a child learns. Your child's goals and even areas of need may change quickly. THIS IS NORMAL!

Social Language/Pragmatics

A child with delays in social skills attends social language therapy. These delays may be the result of autism, personality disorders, pragmatic delays, or no known cause.

This type of therapy targets social skills including eye contact, body language, vocabulary matching a situation, etc...

A child learns social skills in therapy with the use of scripts or role playing. Next, he or she practices those skills in “real life” situations.

Swallowing or Feeding Therapy

A child with dysphagia or feeding difficulties resulting from birth defects, neurological disorders or no known cause attends swallowing and/or feeding therapy.

This type of therapy works chewing and swallowing food. Therapy greatly depends on the reasons behind the difficulty swallowing.

Exercises are common to strengthen lips, tongue, and throat muscles. Modifications of the consistency of food and compensations/techniques for swallowing are often needed as well.

Does Speech Therapy Work?

Well, this depends highly on you! Motivation and commitment are 2 key components.

I see parents hoping that 30 minutes of therapy per week is enough to make a significant improvement. Wouldn't that be nice....

Unfortunately, this is not possible. Is there anything in life that we can do for 30 minutes a week and become experts in just a few months?...no!

Parents must be committed and involved with their child's home program. Speech therapists do the therapy but parents do the intervention.

However, the home program for your child should be fun and part of your daily life, NOT extra work for everyone. Read more about home idea activities. 

For help finding the right speech therapist for your child, read Questions to Ask a Speech Therapist.

How Long Will my Child Be in Therapy?

This is an impossible question to fully answer. Every child is different and has different needs. It is pointless to compare. But nothing is impossible...here are some ideas!

  1. We have some general tips to help speed up the process. 
  2. Get involved! I can’t say this enough. From research and clinical experience alike, the children whose parents are involved in the evaluation and therapy process AND are dedicated to the home program make the quickest progress!
  3. Become a member of Speech Therapy Talk

Become a Member Today!

Are you working on more than one sound with your child? Do you want more detailed information on how to make certain sounds? Do you want tailored speech activities that can be easily completed in the comfort of your home during daily activities? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, read more about our membership program.


I'm not done...we got more for you!

If you have questions if your child even needs an evaluation, check out Speech Therapy For Children: Does my Child Need it?


So what is speech therapy?...I hope I shed some light on the subject!

For more information on what exactly a speech pathologist does, click below:

What Is A Speech Pathologist?

If you are considering becoming a speech therapy, check out what is speech therapy and where do you work?



› What Is Speech Therapy?

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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