Listen And Learn Centre provides speech therapy services to assist children who have difficulties or delays in producing age-appropriate speech and language. Speech therapy involves the identification, definition and diagnosis of the range of speech and language disorders and the provision of direct services using a variety of programs to treat and address communication difficulties. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas. Speech and language difficulties can arise from a wide range of factors. These include: hearing impairments, cognitive or other developmental delays, weak oral muscles, birth defects such as cleft palate, autism, motor planning problems, respiratory problems, swallowing disorders and traumatic brain injury.
What kinds of Speech Disorders and Language Disorders exist? (click to open)
Speech disorders include the following conditions:
- Articulation disorders include difficulties producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that individuals can not understand what is being said.
- Fluency disorders include problems such stuttering, the condition in which the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages and repetitions, or prolonging sounds and syllables.
- Resonance or voice disorders include problems with the pitch, volume or quality of the voice that distract listeners from what is being said. These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for the child when speaking..
- Dysphagia or oral feeding disorders include difficulties with eating and swallowing.
- Observing changes in behaviour over time and systematically refining the behaviour to reach the desired goal.
Language disorders can be either receptive or expressive. They include issues of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics:
- 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.
What is a Speech Pathologist? (click to open)
A Speech Pathologist has been trained to assess and treat individuals who have a communication disability. Speech pathologists also work with people who have difficulties swallowing food and drink. Speech Pathologists or Speech and Language Pathologists were formerly known as speech therapists. Speech Pathologists often coordinate the management of clients, work as part of a multi disciplinary team, consult with other agencies and support family members and other caregivers. A Speech Pathologist is an important member of an early intervention team or a school therapy team.
How does the Speech Pathologist work? (click to open)
The Speech Pathologist firstly conducts a series of assessments to identify and diagnose a speech or language difficulty. A range of standardized assessment tools are administered for infants, school-aged children, adolescents and adults. Assessments primarily examine the form, content, understanding and use of language, as well as articulation and phonology. Treatment programs vary depending on the nature and severity of the disorder. Accordingly, the Speech Pathologist develops a series of fun activities which aim to strengthen a child in their areas of weakness. For example, for mechanical issues, treatment may include exercises to strengthen the tongue and lips such as blowing bubbles or licking an icy pole. Other kinesthetic techniques can assist with articulation. For language, this might involve games to stimulate word retrieval, comprehension or conversation. Treatment may include instructive or repetitive practice and drilling. Other interventions that are applied may include the use of augmented communication systems. These refer to methods that supplements or replaces speech and writing, when these are temporarily or permanently impaired in order to meet all or some of a child’s communication needs. A number of different systems are available including the use of objects, pictures, keyword signing and electronic systems. Parent programs are also available to assist parents to communicate with their child at home.
When is speech therapy needed? (click to open)
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 those who begin therapy later. This does not mean that older children cannot make progress in therapy; they may progress at a slower rate because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed.
Helping your child (click to open)
Speech and 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. The process of overcoming a speech or language disorder may take some time and effort, so it is important that all family members assist in the process and be patient and understanding with the child.
To find out more, please request a call.