“Speech therapy” is a general term used to apply to the treatment of a wide range of communication disorders. A more accurate term is “speech-language therapy” which includes all aspects of communication both verbal and non-verbal. These encompass spoken language comprehension and expression (oral language), the physical aspects or “mechanics” of speech production, the comprehension and use of written language and the use of language for social interaction.
Pediatric speech therapy may be needed due to: a delay obtaining developmental milestones for speech and/or language [link below], a specific language or learning disability, hearing impairment, genetic syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, motor speech disorder such as apraxia or dysarthria, stuttering, vocal nodules or issues producing voice or myofunctional issues such as tongue thrust.
Without accurate diagnosis and treatment unresolved challenges with speech and language skills can lead to frustration, impacted self-esteem, and hinder opportunities to develop and maintain friendships using social communication skills.
Children who benefit from speech therapy include those who need support developing their:
- ability to understand the words spoken to them (receptive language skills)
- ability to formulate and combine words for self-expression (expressive language)
- ability to plan and execute the motor movements for speech production (motor speech)
- ability to mechanically produce speech using the articulators and adequate breath, volume, fluency, and pitch (articulation, voice and fluency)
- ability to understand and use written language (reading comprehension and written expression)