is Speech and Language Therapy?
Speech and language therapy
(a.k.a. Speech and Language Pathology) involves a series of learning
activities designed to enhance your child's articulation and language
skills. These goals are usually accomplished over time. Only rarely
can a child's articulation and language skills be changed in one
or two sessions. Usually, the more serious the disorder, the longer
the period of therapy. The rate and pattern of improvement is different
for every child. Your child may show steady improvement from the
beginning, or a period of lengthy, gradual improvement may begin.
evaluation of your child's articulation and language capabilities is
usually the first step of therapy. From this initial evaluation,
the therapist develops a treatment plan to meet your child's specific
needs. Evaluation does not end here, however. Throughout therapy,
the therapist will measure your child's progress to set new goals
and milestones for your child.
The Therapy Process: The
articulation and language therapy
process proceeds based on a carefully designed sequence of steps.
The difficulty of each task that your child must accomplish will
gradually increase over time. The therapist will use games (such
as the ones you see on this site) as well as paper-and-pencil play
activities to stimulate your child and maintain his/her interest.
Conversations are also an important part of the therapy process.
Generally, the child will be asked to learn to pronounce certain
sounds (articulate), or to modify certain behaviors such as reducing
his/her speech rate or the loudness of his/her voice. In more serious
cases, the child may be asked to relearn skills that were lost
due to an acquired disability, or to augment oral communication
with a variety of alternative, non-vocal communication skills such
as gestures or sign language.
Although the therapist will try
to develop a good interpersonal relationship with your child, children
learn best in a warm and supportive environment. Therefore parents
play a vital role in the articulation therapy process. You will
probably be asked to help by observing your child outside of the
speech therapy sessions and helping your child practice articulation at
home. The therapist will prepare you for these activities by providing
information or specific skill training.
Often parents have a choice about where to seek speech and articulation therapy services. Public schools provide speech and articulation therapy
for school-age children in every state. Some states extend services
to preschool children. Most major hospitals have outpatient programs
that serve children with speech and articulation handicaps. A number
of state health agencies sponsor community clinics. Another option,
though more costly, is the service provided by a professional in
a private practice. In some cases, speech and articulation therapy
may be carried out in the home environment.
Therapist Qualifications: The
recommended minimum qualifications of a speech-language therapist
are a Master's Degree plus national certification from the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This certification is signified
by the letters C.C.C.,
which stand for Certificate of Clinical Competence. Some states
require a license for individuals in private articulation practice.
You should be comfortable in asking a therapist whether he or she
has these credentials. In addition to these minimum qualifications,
you should only seek and stay with those therapists who have sufficient
experience in the articulation therapy