THE ABC’s OF SLP’s
(Speech and Language Pathology Frequently Asked Questions)
“What does a Speech and Language Pathologist do?” “Are you a doctor?” “Do you give medications? Do you do massages?” These are some questions I often encounter when asked about my profession as a Speech and Language Pathologist. The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association define Speech and Language Pathologists as professionals who work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Providing Speech and Language Therapy services for the past 12 years, I came across a lot of inquiries especially from parents/caregivers and would like to share these frequently asked questions with you.
Q: What do you do in Speech and Language Therapy?
A: When an individual (child or adult) comes in, a speech and language evaluation is done. Tests are conducted to assess areas affecting speech and language skills which includes Oral Peripheral Mechanism (structures of the mouth), Articulation (production of phonetic sounds), Language (understanding and use of various age appropriate concepts), Hearing, Voice and Behavior. Test results are used to have a baseline of his/her current abilities as well as make a treatment plan and goals for therapy.
Q: How do I know if my child needs Speech and Language Therapy?
A: Oftentimes, parents come in for consultation when they notice difficulties or differences in the speech and language development of their child when compared to his/her siblings or peers of his/her age describing it as “slow” or “delayed”. Here are some of the common red flags that may help determine presence of a speech and language delay
Red flags for a speech or language delay include:
- No babbling by 9 months.
- No first words by 15 months.
- No consistent words by 18 months.
- No word combinations by 24 months.
- Slowed or stagnant speech development.
- Problems understanding your child’s speech at 24 months of age; strangers having problems understanding your child’s speech by 36 months of age.
- Not showing an interest in communicating.
Other Red Flags include:
- Excessive drooling.
- Difficulty sucking, chewing, or swallowing.
- Problems with control and coordination of lips, tongue, and jaw.
- Stuttering that causes a child embarrassment, frustration, or difficulty with peers.
- Poor memory skills by the time your child reaches kindergarten age (5 to 6 years). He or she may have difficulty learning colors, numbers, shapes, or the alphabet.
- Failure to respond normally, such as not responding when spoken to. This may include signs that the child does not hear well, such as not reacting to loud noises.
- A sudden loss of speech and language skills. Loss of abilities at any age should be addressed immediately.
- Not speaking clearly or well by age 3.
Q: What should I do if I suspect my child to have a speech and/or language delay?
A: This may initially be discussed with your child’s attending pediatrician so they can perform initial language screening and possibly give immediate referrals to professionals who can conduct formal assessments and give recommendations and/or interventions deemed necessary for the needs of your child. These professionals may include, but is not limited to, Developmental Pediatrician, Audiologist, Speech and Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, etc.
Q: How long will my child need Speech and Language Therapy?
A: this is a case to case basis. Regular monitoring and re-evaluations are done to determine child’s level of progress and also to update treatment goals and decide whether a formal speech therapy is still needed, if dyadic (with a classmate) or group therapy is already recommended or formal speech therapy may be discontinued and will just be carried over at home and in school activities/
Q:What can be done at home and in school to help my child’s speech and language development?
A: Take time to talk and play with your child. They may seem not interested or hard to engage with at times but they hear and see you. Children learn from listening and imitating people and things around them. Pretend games and interactive play such as character role playing, doing outdoor games, arts and crafts, cooking, etc. are very helpful activities in cultivating your child’s imagination and developing his/her speech and language skills.
Here are also some activities that can be done to enhance children’s speech and language skills:
- Recommended Activities for 1-2 year old kids
- Reward and encourage early efforts at saying new words
- Talk to your baby about everything you’re doing while you’re with him
- Talk simply, clearly, and slowly to your child
- Talk about new situations before you go, while you’re there, and again when you are home
- Look at your child when he or she talks to you
- Describe what your child is doing, feeling, hearing
- Let your child listen to children’s records and tapes
- Praise your child’s efforts to communicate
- Recommended Activities for 2-4 year old kids
- Use good, clear and simple speech
- Repeat what your child says. Use baby talk only if needed and accompany the adult word.
- Help your child understand and ask questions. Give choices.
- Expand vocabulary and explain USE
- Sing simple songs and recite nursery rhymes
- Use photographs of familiar people and places, and retell what happened or make up a new story.
- Recommended Activities for 4-6 year old kids
- Give your full attention.
- Talk about spatial relationships & opposites.
- Work on forming and explaining categories.
- Help your child follow two- and three-step directions and let your child give directions.
- Use the TV.
- Take advantage of daily activities.
- Acknowledge, encourage, and praise all attempts to speak.
- Pause after speaking.
- Continue to build vocabulary.
Created By : Alissa
- Love R., Childhood Motor Speech Disability, 2nd edition, (2000), Allyn and Bacon, Needham Heights, MA.
- Lund N. and Duchan J., Assessing Children’s Language in Naturalistic Contexts, (1983), Prentice-Hall, NJ
- Owens, An Introduction to Language, (1984)