Speech Therapy

What is speech and language therapy?

Speech, language and communication skills are important skills which children need to develop. Some children may experience some difficulties in developing these skills. Some of these difficulties may be in developing:

  • Speech sounds – children may experience problems in articulation and phonology. This will result in having unclear speech.
  • Receptive language skills (comprehension) – children may experience difficulties in understanding and following instructions.
  • Expressive language skills – children will find it difficult to use words, phrases and sentences to communicate.
  • Literacy and reading skills – Children may experience difficulties in developing their early literacy and reading skills.
  • Social communication skills – children who present with these difficulties may require help in using verbal and body language skills appropriately in everyday social situations. Children who experience difficulties in developing their social communication skills may find it difficult to interact with others, follow the rules of conversation, exhibit waiting and turn taking skills, maintain the topic of conversation etc.

Speech language therapy sessions are directed towards helping children develop or improve their speech, language communication and early literacy skills. Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) work with children who present with difficulties in these skills.  

Why should a parent seek SLP?

There are various reasons which may impact the development of speech, language, communication and early literacy skills. Some children may experience a delay in developing these skills. Other children may present with disorders. Children may experience difficulties in their speech, language, communication and literacy skills as secondary to other conditions.

Children may present with:

  • Unclear speech, speech sound disorders, articulation and phonology disorders.
  • Language delay, language disorders. Children may present as being non-verbal or may have very few words in their vocabulary. This will impact their mode of interaction and they will not be able to use words in order to request, comment, communicate and interact with others. Children may also experience difficulties in following directions and in understanding language.
  • Social communication difficulties, which will have an impact on their daily interactions during social situations and events.
  • Literacy and reading difficulties which will have an impact on learning.

Children learn to communicate through exposure. From birth to five years, children are constantly learning skills. Children may experience difficulties in their early years which will then have an impact on their learning. Children who present with delayed speech, language delays, communication disorders, literacy difficulties, can’t participate fully during activities and conversations. If not provided with the specific help which they may need, they may fall even further behind.

What does the assessment consist of?

The SLP will start by assessing the child and observe the difficulties being experienced.  A case history interview, with significant others will also be carried out so as to gather all the required information. The SLP will then identify the speech, language, communication and literacy difficulties. After identifying the difficulties, the SLP will then list all the goals which need to be targeted during the therapy sessions.

Therefore, it is essential that during their early years, children get the helpful input which they need to build their speech, language communication and early literacy skills. Simply put, the earlier children receive the help they need, the better their language outcome will be.

Speech therapy can help children to speak clearly and encourage them to be better communicators. This will help children feel more confident. Children will also be less frustrated because of not being able to communicate or not being understood by others. Children who experience difficulties, will benefit emotionally and academically through speech therapy.

What does the therapy consist of?

The amount and type of therapy varies according to the child’s specific needs. Therapy goals are tailor made and directed to reach specific goals for each client. Therapy may be given through small groups, or one-to-one sessions, depending on the child’s specific needs.

During therapy sessions, the child will be presented with speech therapy exercises and activities. These activities will vary depending on the child’s difficulties, age, and specific needs.

  • The speech therapist will use games, books, flashcards and toys in order to interact with the child as part of therapy to help stimulate the development of the required skills.
  • During sessions, the speech therapist will also model correct speech sounds, syllables, words, phrases and sentences through games and by using different material. This will help children learn and follow the models. 
  • The speech therapist will also use techniques and strategies. These will be encouraged to be carried out also at school and at home so that the child will be able to practise his speech, language, communication and early literacy skills. 

The speech and language therapist provides assessment, diagnosis, advice and treatment to children who experiences speech, language, communication and swallowing challenges.

A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) carries out an assessment to find out if  your child has speech (pronunciation or stammering), language (understanding, sentence formation and grammar), communication (social interaction) or eating and drinking difficulties.

Speech and Language Therapists can help your child if they are experiencing challenges with: 

Speech Therapy for Children at WonderKids Centre

If a child your child experiences any difficulties in these areas, a speech therapy assessment will be required.

Speech therapy  assessment

The speech and language assessment process, will help the therapist to obtain the necessary information about your child’s skills and areas of difficulties. The assessment involves the use of standardised and non-standardised assessment depending on your child’s needs. The tests used depend upon the age and skills that are being assessed.

A speech assessment would involve assessing your child’s ability to produce a range of sounds, where as a receptive language assessment looks at a child’s ability to understand spoken language.  Your input is an important part of the assessment process.

Speech Therapy sessions

Following the assessment, therapy sessions may be recommended and frequency of intervention is dependent upon your child’s needs. The treatment may be offered on an individual or group basis or through programmes of advice. A typical individual based therapy session will last approximately 45 to 60 minutes with a qualified speech and language pathologist. 

Recommendations for home and school

As part of the therapeutic process the therapist can carry out school observations and advise teachers on any suitable adaptions to the environment or specific teaching strategies/activities your child would benefit from.

Additionally throughout the program, parents will be given guidance on suitable home activities . 

speech therapy, Speech Therapy
speech therapy, Speech Therapy

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    Call Ema Bartolo MSc (Ulster) on 99872936