As a parent, it can be tricky to determine what type of therapy your child requires. Not only is identifying the need to seek therapy difficult, but it can also often be hard to ascertain what the appropriate timing is. At The Therapy Place, we’re committed to helping parents like you make the best decisions that will improve your child’s quality of life.
Speech Therapy consists of various activities and approaches that can improve your child’s overall communication, language and speech complications. In contrast, Occupational Therapy focuses on treatment to improve motor skills, balance, coordination, and help with everyday tasks.
Think your child may need Speech or Occupational Therapy? Don’t delay! Keep reading to explore the benefits of Speech and Occupational Therapy for children. Below, we’ll explore more about each type of therapy, their uses, and how to know what your individual child needs.
What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy involves assessing and treating speech impairments or communication problems. Usually, a professionally trained speech-language pathologist (SLP) administers speech therapy. For children, speech therapy may look slightly different than speech therapy for adults. Using age-appropriate methods and approaches, speech therapy for kids involves using play, books, pictures, or other objects to help stimulate language development.
What does Speech Therapy Help With?
Depending on a child’s specific needs, speech therapy approaches will be targeted at enhancing areas that need improvement.
Problems with articulation include difficulty pronouncing or saying certain words or sounds correctly. Lisps fall within articulation problems.
In children, fluency disorders often involve problems completing full words or repeating certain sounds.
Sometimes resonance problems are also referred to as voice disorders. This includes problems like talking too low or mumbling.
Articulation, resonance, and fluency are just a few of the many types of speech impediments that Speech Therapy can assist with. Another common language disorder that speech therapy addresses include receptive disorders, which involve understanding or processing language. Children with expressive disorders struggle to put words together. These, as well as cognitive-communication disorders, are all addressed in Speech Therapy.
How Do I Know My Child Might Need Speech Therapy?
As a parent, you know your child best. Needs vary from child to child, depending on age and stage.
Some common signs include:
- Noticing stuttering or babbling in your child’s speech
- Inconsistent voice volume or tone
- Incoherent speech
- Speech that is difficult to understand
- Trouble pronouncing specific sounds
- Not Talking at School or Home
- Lack of gesturing
- Issues with verbal requests
Speech therapy can start at any age, however, the sooner the better. The chances of success for your child will be much higher. In general, it is recommended to begin evaluation and consultation for speech therapy as soon as parents notice any potential signs of concern.
Your child’s Speech Therapist will perform a thorough evaluation of their capabilities, focusing treatment on areas of concern. In addition, a professional and experienced speech therapist, like those at The Therapy Place, will ensure that therapy sessions are fun for your child!
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy can help kids who have physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. The goal of occupational therapy is to improve a child’s independence and ability to perform daily tasks of living on their own. Occupational Therapy may work on skills such as hand-eye coordination, activities of basic life such as getting dressed, fine motor skills, and more.
Children who have certain developmental delays or disabilities may also benefit from Occupational Therapy. This may be learning problems, autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders, mental health, or behavioral problems.
In addition, Occupational Therapy is also beneficial for children with certain medical conditions, such as hand injuries, spina bifida, amputations, cancer, and more.
How Do I Know My Child Might Need Occupational Therapy?
If you’ve noticed your child struggling with their day-to-day daily activities, or you’ve heard from school staff that they’re struggling in an academic setting, it may be time to get an evaluation. Occupational Therapists can assess your child’s abilities, helping to determine if they would benefit from OT sessions.
Though signs may vary from child to child, some common signs a child may need Occupational Therapy include:
- Not meeting developmental milestones like crawling or walking
- Lack of play or social skills
- Issues with fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil or object
- Handwriting or Number Formation issues
- The trouble with balance, coordination, or hand-eye coordination
- Difficulty with visual processing, such as copying shapes or letters or mastering concepts like right vs. left
- Sensory processing concerns such as heightened awareness of sounds or movements
Speech Therapy vs. Occupational Therapy: How do they compare?
Both Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy are successful therapeutic approaches to improve specific needs your child may have. Occupational therapy encompasses your child’s whole-body needs, including motor function. This includes a focus on daily tasks, such as things your child will do in their everyday life and at school. In addition, Occupational Therapy focuses on motor skill development, such as things like using scissors or tying shoes.
In contrast, Speech Therapy focuses only on speech and language needs. Speech Therapy swallowing, eating, or reading. Speech Therapy is focused less on performing specific tasks, rather, focuses entirely on improving the speech and language capabilities of your child.
Occupational Therapy can help your child’s academic and cognitive skills, gross and fine motor skills, social play and behavioral skills, sensory processing, and enhance their independence when performing daily tasks. In contrast, Speech Therapy can help your child improve speech fluency, literacy, vocabulary, develop articulation skills, improve feeding or oral motor skills, and reach appropriate developmental language milestones.
While each type of therapy has unique differences, both Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy do have quite a few similarities. Both therapy types create specific and individualized goals for your child, helping to foster success and encourage independence. In addition, both Speech and Occupational Therapy contain age-appropriate games, activities, and exercises which specifically target areas in which your child needs improvement.
Each child has a unique set of needs which will determine which type of therapy, or both, will serve them best. Whether your child is in need of speech therapy, occupational therapy, or both, The Therapy Place can help! Start by scheduling an evaluation for your child with our expert professionals.
We’re trained to help assess and evaluate your child’s needs, helping to create an individualized treatment plan for them. Don’t stress about determining which type of therapy your child needs; leave it up to our trusted professionals at The Therapy Place! Our experienced and patient clinical staff are happy to answer any questions you may have as a parent.
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