In speech-language therapy, an SLP will work with a child one-to-one, in a small group, via the interent or directly in a classroom to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder. Therapists use a variety of strategies, including:
language intervention activities. In these exercises an SLP will interact with a child by playing and talking. 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 therapy. Articulation, or sound production, 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. The SLP will physically show the child how to make certain sounds, such as the "r" sound, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds.
oral motor/feeding therapy. The SLP will use a variety of oral exercises, including facial massage and various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises, to strengthen the muscles of the mouth. The SLP may also work with different food textures and temperatures to increase a child's oral awareness during eating and swallowing.
Kids might need speech-language therapy for a variety of reasons, including:
cognitive (intellectual; thinking) or other developmental delays
weak oral muscles
birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate
motor planning problems
respiratory problems (breathing disorders)
traumatic brain injury
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 kids can't make progress in therapy; they may progress at a slower rate because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed.
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, and help determine whether it is a success. Kids who complete the program quickest and with the most lasting results are those whose parents have been involved.
Ask the therapist for suggestions on how you can help your child. For instance, it's important to help your child do the at-home stimulation activities that the SLP suggests to ensure continued progress and carry-over of newly learned skills.
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.
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