What is pediatric speech and language therapy exactly?
Pediatric speech and language therapy’s purpose is to help young children improve their speech or get help with their speech and language disorder. Speech language pathologists or speech language pathology assistants are the ones who would be helping your child with their speech and language needs. They are educated individuals who might be specialized in a specific field.
Areas for Pediatric Speech Therapy:
There are different areas that will require different goals and therapy techniques.
- Speech disorders: These include Articulation, fluency, voice.
- Articulation refers to when a child has difficulty producing certain sounds or words
- Fluency refers to smooth flow of speech. One of the most common fluency disorders in children is Stuttering.
- Voice disorders refer to quality, pitch and loudness of voice and its appropriateness.
- Receptive language: This refers to understanding information and language spoken by others. Some children may have difficulty understanding what is spoken to them. Speech therapy will help overcome receptive language disorders.
- Expressive Language: This refers to expressing language which is combining words into phrases or sentences understandable by others.
Common Disorders for Pediatric Speech Therapy:
Some of the common disorders that require pediatric speech therapy include:
- Down Syndrome
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Steps for Pediatric Speech Therapy
Step 1: Initial Evaluation
During the initial evaluation, the speech language pathologist is trying to assess the child and the speech disorders the child may have. This could be done through standardized tests or simply by chatting or playing with the child.
step 2: Initial Therapy Session
After the evaluation, the speech language pathologist will set goals based on the evaluation to target the speech needs specific to the child. During the first session the therapist will simply get to know the child and the parents, communicate the goals and needs of the child, and share the expected outcomes of the therapy.
step 3: Therapy session
This is when the therapist will start conducting therapy to target different goals. As mentioned before, pediatric speech therapists need to teach kids by playing games. An example of this would be:
For example, is the goal is to get the child to produce a certain sound, the therapist might play with farm animals and have the child produce sounds associated with each animal.
Pediatric Speech Therapy vs Adult Speech Therapy:
One of the main differences between pediatric speech therapy and adult is the way the therapy is conducted. Since children have short attention spans, the therapist needs to find activities, games, and toys that will grab the child’s attention and help them with targeting their goals. This is why the initial therapy session is for the therapist to get to know the child. Pediatric speech therapy is done mostly by playing games, doing fun activities, art projects and etc.
Speech Therapy at Home
In order for speech therapy to be affective, the child needs to practice the goals constantly. This means not just in therapy, but also at home. The child spends most of his/her time at home with his/her parents. If the parents are not practicing with the child at home, the one-hour session will not make a great difference in that child’s speech improvement.
For this reason, at the end of the session, it is critical for the therapist to assign homework to parents to do at home with the child. The homework includes games or activities that the parent can do at home with the child.
When to get help from a Pediatric Speech Therapist:
It is critical to get help as soon as possible. If you are concerned about whether your child needs speech therapy, it is helpful to get your child evaluated. When it comes to speech & language, the sooner the child gets help, the better it will be. During the first 3 years of life, the brain is designed to learn language and communication skills. It becomes harder after the first few years, so it is best to get help as soon as possible to minimize the long-term negative impacts of speech delay or disorders.
See if your child is reaching their speech milestones:
If you are a speech therapist:
Pediatric speech therapy can be fun, challenging, and very rewarding at the same time. If you enjoy working with kids and playing all day long, then pediatric speech therapy might be the right career choice for you!
To learn more about Pediatric speech therapy career opportunities, you can visit Employment Opportunities – Speech Improvement Center
We have many locations in Southern California: Locations – Speech Improvement Center
Want to get your Speech Language Pathology Assistant license in California? visit SLPA License Requirements (speechic.net)