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Speech Therapists Treat More than Speech


A speech and language pathologist (speech therapist or speech language therapist) is a professional who has obtained a master's degree in communication sciences and disorders from an accredited university. A speech language pathologist may specialize in adults or children presenting with a wide range of delays and disorders in the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency (stuttering), cognitive communication or swallowing.


WHAT TYPE OF DISORDERS DOES A SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST TREAT?


Articulation Disorders: An articulation disorder is when a child mispronounces a single or a few sounds. A child may substitute a sound, omit a sound or distort a sound. Common articulation disorders include producing /w/ for /r/ or /l/ sound, for example, "wion/lion" or 'wed/red".


Phonological Disorders: A phonological disorder is much different than an articulation disorder or delay. A phonological process is part of natural speech development and they are used by children as a way to simplify their speech as they learn to speak. As a child develops they will naturally suppress or eliminate the use of these patterns as they mature and develop. A phonological disorder is when a child uses common patterns or phonological processes beyond the expected age of disappearance. For example, "final consonant deletion is a phonological pattern that is typically used by children as they develop their speech, but should be eliminated by the age of 3. Often, children will use several phonological patterns beyond the expected age of suppression which, makes their speech very hard to understand.


Fluency Disorders: Stuttering is the name of a difficulty with speech fluency, or the smooth, forward flow of speech. Stuttering-like disfluencies are:

  • Sound/syllable repetitions: "M-m-m-my toy b-b-b-b-broke."

  • Whole word repetitions: "My-my-my toy broke-broke."

  • Audible sound prolongations: "Mmmmmmy toy bbbbbbroke."

  • Inaudible sound prolongations (or blocks): "My t___oy bro____ke."

About 8% of children have a period of stuttering sometime during their development, with most recovering completely either with or without speech therapy, and .75-1% of individuals continue to stutter for the rest of their lives. (Yairi, E., & Ambrose, N. (2013). Epidemiology of stuttering: 21st century advances. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 38(2), 66-87. There is no "cure" for stuttering, however, with work and commitment speech therapy can vastly improve the ease in which a person speaks.


Receptive and Expressive Language Delay and Disorders: A language delay differs from a language disorder in that children with a delay will go through the same stages as a typically developing child and will eventually "catch up" with their peers. In contrast, a child with a language disorder does not typically follow the natural progression of language development and will not grow out of their communication problem without interventions, such as, speech therapy. Receptive language is the ability to understand words, sentences, and speech acts, and expressive language is the ability to use words to communicate verbally and nonverbally. Some children may have difficulty with understanding spoken language, while other children may have difficulty expressing themselves. In some cases, children may have difficulty with both receptive and expressive language. Children with receptive language difficulties may have difficulty acquiring new words, and following directions, while children with expressive language delays may have difficulty using words to communicate effectively.


Voice Disorders: A voice disorder occurs when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual's age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location (Aronson & Bless, 2009; Boone et al., 2010; Lee et al., 2004). Voice disorder are categorized as:


  • Organic-physiological voice disorders that result from alterations in respiratory, laryngeal. or vocal tract mechanisms, including vocal polyps or nodules, vocal tremor, vocal fold paralysis or edema. Children may also have a voice disorder that effects how their voice resonates. For example, a child may sound "nasally".

  • Functional-voice disorders that result from inefficient use (or abuse) of the vocal mechanism when the physical structure is normal. People who talk a lot, such as teachers, are at increased risk of developing a voice disorder. Singers are also at increased risk of developing a voice disorder and may develop laryngeal pathologies or vocal fold symptoms that may vary based on differences in singing style and genre (Kwak & Eslick, 2019). Children who scream and/or use their voice in unusual ways (pretending to be a lion) may be at increased risk of a voice disorder.



WHAT DOES AN ONLINE PEDIATRIC SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST DO?


Online pediatric speech language pathologists (SLP's) provide evaluation and treatment to children who demonstrated delays in their speech, language and/or cognitive communication skills. Online SLP's treat children in a virtual space using high speech internet connection and age appropriate materials targeting individualized goals. Following a screening, the SLP will determine if the child is behind in his or her speech, language or cognitive communication skills. Following the speech and language evaluation, a treatment plan will be developed which will be customized for a specific child's needs. Speech language pathologists are the best resource when it comes to supporting your child's speech, language and cognitive communication skills. When left untreated kids may fall behind in academics and may have difficulty socially, so book your FREE screening with Universal Speech Therapy today!



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