by Jodi Gilray-Szostak, PT, DPT, c/NDT, Jodi Gilray Pediatric Therapy
You might be interested to know that speech therapy for kids reaches well beyond speaking skills.
1. Difference between speech, language
Speech, quite simply, refers to how we say sounds/words. Language, on the other hand, refers to our ability to comprehend and express through communication, which can be verbal (ex: saying complete sentences) or non-verbal (ex: waving).
You can count on speech to include:
- Articulation: How we make sounds using the tongue, lips and mouth. For example, saying “yellow” over “wellow.”
- Voice: How we make sounds with our breath and vocal folds. This includes making use of high/low pitches.
- Fluency: The flow of our speech. Stuttering, for example, interrupts our speaking rhythm as does pausing between sounds or words.
2. Improving social communication skills
Kids who struggle with social communication skills may speak at inappropriate times. Let’s say you’re telling a very serious story about your friend’s broken leg. Laughing in this situation would be considered socially inappropriate.
Additionally, kids’ speech therapy can help those little tykes that struggle to stay on topic, tell stories that do not make sense or tend to dominate conversations.
3. Beyond spoken communication
Kiddos that find language challenging will often find extra difficulties with developing their reading and writing skills. The good news is that speech therapists can also help kids improve their literacy skills, making it easier to navigate the complexity of language.
Speech therapists help with what is known as cognitive-communication skills, as well. These skills include communication that involves memory, attention, organization, executive function, regulation and more. Ultimately, cognitive communication relates to how our minds work.
4. Play helps kids learn
Speech therapists are trained to really bring words and sounds to life in a creative way. You’ll often see a speech therapist make great use of books, storytelling, turn-taking games and interaction as a whole.
5. Don’t wait
Waiting is the main ingredient for problems worsening over time. If you notice your child struggling with speech or language, stay on top of it. Signs to look out for include:
- Not being well understood when speaking.
- Speaking to loudly/too quietly.
- Decreased/loss of hearing.
- Possessing a limited vocabulary.
- Struggling to build relationships with peers.
- Difficulty staying on topic, paying attention or following directions.
- History with a developmental disorder, genetic disorder, stroke/brain injury or progressive neurological disorder.