What do speech therapists do?
Speech Therapists are trained to work with communication disorders and swallowing in adults and children. Communication disorders can be:
- Articulation (speech sounds - should be perfect by age 7)
- Language (understanding and expressing verbal and written language)
- Voice (hoarseness caused by vocal cord nodules/polyps/abuse/paralysis)
- Fluency (stuttering)
- Memory (rehab for brain injuries, dementia...)
- Social (using language appropriately - big problem in autism)
Should my child be in speech therapy?
First of all... if you are asking then the answer is probably yes :)
What diagnoses indicate a need for speech therapy?
Autism, Developmental Delay, Speech Delay, Language Delay, Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), Apraxia, Traumatic Brain Injury, Dementia, Stroke, Aphasia, Cleft Palate, Stuttering, Vocal Dysfunction, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, and more :)
Check out the Speech and Hearing Milestones
If your child has not reached these milestones then contact your pediatrician to set up speech therapy. Do not let your pediatrician tell you that they are too young or that they'll grow out of it. You know your child better than anyone else and if you feel there is a delay then an evaluation can't hurt.
If your child is under 3 years old, contact your county's Early Intervention services first.
Sometimes insurances won't pay for outpatient speech therapy... contact your school district and they should have a free service. If your insurance will pay for it, do it.
Also... once in speech therapy:
- Come to your appointments - common sense - I know but you would not believe :)
- Do the homework... a little every day
- Ask for more homework and do it
- Make it fun and exciting for your child
- Remember that it doesn't happen overnight
- Don't be afraid to ask questions about your child's progress or treatment techniques
- Most kids do 100% better without their parent present during therapy
I also like these sites for more information and tools: