By: Blair Gorenberg MA, CCC-SLP
There’s a common misconception that speech therapy is only meant for kids who can’t say words with “r.” While issues producing sounds can definitely be addressed, speech therapists are trained to work with children and adults who struggle with so many other concerns, such as a limited vocabulary, following directions, reading and writing, organization, and critical thinking.
What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy is the evaluation and treatment of a variety of speech and language disorders. Generally speaking, speech is defined by the production of verbal output. When addressing a child’s speech issue, you may be helping the child produce a certain sound, use appropriate intonation, or control the volume of the child’s voice. Language is defined as the words we use, how we put them together to form thoughts, and how we understand the words that are spoken to us. Speech therapy is used to help improve deficits and teach strategies to help the child be as successful at communicating as possible!
Why might my child need speech therapy?
There are a variety of reasons why a child may need speech therapy. Below are some common examples of when a child may benefit from speech therapy. This is not an exhaustive list, so even if your child doesn’t fit into any of these examples, seeking a speech and language evaluation is still an option.
If a child’s speech is difficult to understand due to the way the child produces sounds or the child surpasses the age that a certain sound milestone should’ve been achieved but wasn’t, an articulation disorder may be present.
Sound Milestone Examples:
- 2 years old: b, p, d, m, speech is understood 50% of the time
- 3 years old: f, g, k, t, w, speech is understood 75% of the time
- 4 years old: speech is understood 85% of the time
- 5 years old: ch, s, j, sh, speech is understood 100% of the time
- 6 years old: consonant blends
- 7 years old: th, s blends
Expressive And Receptive Language:
As children grow, their vocabulary is expected to grow. If a child has a limited vocabulary or difficulty putting words together to form phrases and sentences, this is a sign of delayed language development, and an expressive language disorder may be present. If a child struggles to follow directions or understand complex questions, a receptive language disorder may be present.
Language Milestone Examples:
- 1 year old: produces at least 1 word around first birthday, follows basic directions
- 2 years old: combines 2 words to make phrases, vocabulary of 150-300 words
- 3 years old: combines 3 words to make phrases, follows multi-step directions
- 4 years old: uses -ing verbs appropriately, understands spatial concepts
- 5 years old: speaks in long sentences, answers complex questions
Otherwise known as a fluency disorder, speech therapy may be warranted to help your child when the persistent and frequent occurrence of pauses, blocks, or repetitions that are associated with stuttering gets in the way of your child’s ability to effectively communicate.
What are the benefits of speech therapy?
Working with a speech therapist can help your child expand the variety of communication methods used. These methods can include words, gestures, facial expressions, sign language, picture exchange. All of these methods improve your child’s ability to communicate wants, needs, feelings, and so much more.
Speech therapists help target sounds that your child may drop, distort, or substitute with another sound. When these changes happen, a child’s speech becomes difficult to understand, or unintelligible. Working to correct these changes significantly improves your child’s speech intelligibility making it easier for listeners to understand what your child is talking about.
Focusing on the complexities of language improves your child’s ability to understand questions, directions, and conversations. These skills are especially important as your child progresses from preschool to kindergarten and beyond.
Improving Social Skills:
Targeting social skills can greatly improve your child’s ability to connect with peers. Whether it is through play or conversation, speech therapy will give your child the tools to engage with those around them.
Getting The Help Your Child Needs
Regardless of your child’s age, current skills, and deficits, speech therapy can be incredibly beneficial in helping your child improve communication, intelligibility, understanding, and social skills. Working with a licensed speech therapist allows your child to work on speech and language in a structured setting. Providing a structured setting for your child to work in helps your child focus. Speech therapists also provide helpful strategies and instructions for how to carry over speech and language stimulation techniques into your child’s natural environment such as at home, in school, or in the community. Even very young children can benefit from early intervention efforts if you start to notice signs of delayed speech in your child. If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language, contact The Therapy Place today to learn more!
Aasl. “6 Benefits of Speech Therapy.” All About Speech & Language, 14 Jan. 2021, https://aaspeech.com/6-benefits-of-speech-therapy/.
“The Benefits of Speech Therapy in Your Child’s Development.” PediaPlex, https://www.pediaplex.net/blog/the-benefits-of-speech-therapy-in-your-childs-development.
“Speech Therapy for Children: What Are the Benefits? – Napa Center.” NAPA, 7 Jan. 2022, https://napacenter.org/importance-speech-therapy/.
“What Is Speech? What Is Language?” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/speech-and-language/.