Speech Therapy for Kids: When and Why Do They Need It?

We’ve all seen and heard the stereotype: Sally (who happens to live down by the seashore) can’t say her /s/ sounds, and it’s so darn cute. Cue speech therapy. While speech therapists are well versed in the area of correcting articulatory errors in children and/or adults alike, the practice of speech-language pathology encompasses so much more. Below are some reasons your child may need the help of a speech-language pathologist (SLP):

Articulation

  • Has difficulty producing one or more speech sounds
  • Substitutes sounds
  • Omits or adds sounds in words
  • Is difficult to understand by familiar and/or unfamiliar listeners

Early Language Skills

  • Does not babble or vocalize at an appropriate age
  • Does not point to objects/items of interest

Receptive Language

  • Cannot follow simple and/or multi-step verbal commands
  • Does not appropriately respond to wh- questions

Expressive Language

  • Does not ask wh-questions
  • Exhibits frustration when attempting to communicate wants/needs/feelings

Social Communication

  • Has a difficult time making friends
  • Demonstrates limited eye contact
  • Has difficulty initiating conversation with adults and/or peers
  • Doesn’t “get” jokes, metaphors or similes
  • Does not take interest in participating in social exchanges (i.e., ignores others)

Auditory Processing

  • Can’t seem to recall a series of numbers and/or words
  • Continually requires someone to repeat a question or command (i.e., “What?”)
  • Seems to need “extra” time to understand and/or answer question

Feeding/Oral Motor Issues

  • Refuses to eat a variety of foods
  • Frequently coughs/gags on foods
  • Refuses breast and/or bottle and demonstrates weight loss

Executive Functioning Skills

  • Has difficulty remembering their homework assignments
  • Has a hard time planning and organizing thoughts and actions

Fluency

  • Stutters
  • Gropes mouth for sounds or words that don’t come out

Verbal Apraxia of Speech

  • Gropes mouth for sounds or words that don’t come out
  • Distorts vowel sounds

Decoding/Reading and Writing Comprehension

  • Has difficulty reading age-appropriate text
  • Can’t seem to recall details from stories read to self or aloud
  • Has a difficult time writing book reports

Speech therapy for kids is so much more than getting their sounds right! The examples above are just a handful of challenges that speech-language pathologists treat. When in doubt, seek the advice of a licensed SLP as soon as you suspect difficulties- the earlier the intervention, the greater the success.

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