What is Speech Therapy?
Brighton Center speech therapists (STs) or speech and language pathologists (SLPs) provide speech therapy services through the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program with expertise in speech, receptive language (how children process and understand information) and expressive language (how children combine words into phrases and sentences to outwardly communicate). Speech therapists work with children on verbal and non-verbal language development as well as feeding and swallowing disorders.
Speech therapy begins with an evaluation to determine areas of need and/or concerns. This evaluation is performed through conversation with the family as well as by examination and observation of how your child understands and uses different words, their pronunciation of speech sounds, physical ability to produce speech, voice quality, etc.
How will a Brighton Speech Therapist Work With My Child?
Once a plan of care is established to include target outcomes as well as frequency of visits, speech therapy may take place in a variety of settings including at home, at child care centers, and in the community within the context of every day routines and using toys and other supports typically found within those settings. Because children learn through play, interventions are embedded within play activities to optimize motivation, meaningful participation and joy. Speech therapists may consider and propose the use of assistive devices and/or toy and equipment adaptations/modifications. These can optimize the child’s movement and ability to participate in desired play or other desired activities.
Of utmost importance is the collaborative relationship between the speech therapist and parent(s)/caregiver(s) to facilitate child- and family-centered care. Speech therapists and parents typically schedule visits for 45 minutes to 1 hour. During that time, activities are planned jointly based on parent-identified needs/priorities and target outcomes. Children practice activities within usual routines, while the speech therapist provides instruction and modeling of activities. Speech therapists also facilitate parent(s)/caregiver(s) practice of the same activities with discussion and feedback with parent(s)/caregiver(s) throughout the visit. Equipping children through use of play and participation in daily routines that addresses areas of need, and empowering parent(s)/caregiver(s) with knowledge and skills to carry over strategies within daily routines, is essential.
Hear from a Brighton Speech Therapist about how to help your child’s communication skills
How do I know if my child might benefit from Speech Therapy?
All children progress at different paces but communication disorders are prevalent in America and early intervention is key. It is extremely important to know what is and what isn’t normal when it comes to language and speech development. Here are five of the most important red flags to look for regarding a potential speech/language delay:
1. Your Child doesn’t interact socially. If your infant doesn’t babble (between 4 and 7 months), your baby only makes a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (between 7 and 12 months), or your infant doesn’t seem to understand what you or others are saying (between 7 months and 2 years old) there might be a concern.
2. Your Toddler Makes Only a Few Sounds, Words, or Gestures (12 to 18 months). Most children start to say a few single words between 12 months and 18 months. Between 1 1/2 and 2, they’re typically putting words together. If your child isn’t saying anything, or has an extremely limited vocabulary of words, they may have a speech disorder and need speech therapy.
3. You (and Others) Can’t Understand What Your Child Is Saying (18 months to 2 years). It isn’t uncommon for moms and dads to be the only people who understand what their toddler is saying, but between 18 months and 2 years, parents shouldn’t have too much difficulty deciphering what their child is saying. Speech should be clear to a familiar listener by this age.
4. Your Child Hasn’t Started to Combine 2 or More Words Together By the Age of 2. Usually, children begin combining two or more words together to make “sentences” at about 18 months: “My ball.” “Come Mama.” If between the ages of 1 1/2 and 3, children aren’t pairing two or more words with one another, parents may want to consult a Speech Therapist for speech therapy services.
5. Your Child Struggles to Make Sounds or Say Words (2 1/2 to 4 years). Some sounds are harder to pronounce than others. For instance, a “K” or a “G” sound doesn’t roll off the tongue for an 18-month-old (or even some 2-year-olds). Easier sounds, like ‘P,’ ‘B,’ and ‘M,’ shouldn’t be a problem for children after the age of 2. If your 2 1/2-year-old is still having trouble with “easier” sounds, or your 3- to 4-year-old is having trouble with “harder” sounds, consider it a red flag. According to statistics provided by the NIH and the NIDCD in 2016, nearly 1 in 12 (7.7%) of all U.S. children ages 3-17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing in the past 12 months.