How Can A Speech Pathologist Help Your Child?

4 April 2023
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog

Parents want nothing more than see their children thriving in life. When your child cannot communicate with you, frustrations grow for both parties. Speech impediments cause developmental delays but can be managed with therapy. If the condition is severe, surgery may be required prior to treatment.

What Is a Speech Impediment?

A speech impediment is any condition that makes communicating difficult. Common impediments include:

  • Tongue tie: A tendon under the tongue that prevents the tongue from moving freely
  • Stuttering
  • Articulation: Slurring of speech
  • Apraxia: Inability to use correct muscles to form words
  • Dysarthria: Weakened muscles to form words
  • Selective Mutism: Anxiety that prevents speech

Causes of Speech Impediments

Some speech impediments are caused by birth defects, such as tongue ties and cleft palates. Others are due to underlying conditions that cause the brain to work differently than in neuro-typical children.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: Children on the spectrum find speaking more difficult due to anxiety and the inability to interpret social cues.
  • Tourette's and Other Tic Disorders: Tics complicate the ability to form words and articulate, especially when encountering high-stress environments.
  • Cerebral Palsy: Children with cerebral palsy lack muscle coordination, making it difficult to form words.
  • Hearing Loss: Children learn how to speak by listening. Hearing loss prevents your child from learning words properly.

How Speech Pathologists Can Help

A speech pathologist, or speech therapist, will run a series of tests to evaluate the cause and severity of developmental conditions. If the condition is severe enough, surgery may be required. The tendon under the tongue forms too close to the tip in tongue-tied children but can be clipped to allow more movement. Cochlear implants aid children with hearing loss. Following surgery, your child's speech therapist creates a treatment plan that teaches the proper formation of words and coping skills to ease anxiety. If surgery is not needed, treatment plans can be quickly implemented. Parents continue the methods taught during therapy at home for regular practice and use. Skills worked on include:

  • Articulation
  • Facial expressions with words
  • Listening skills
  • Fluency
  • Tone
  • Social cues
  • Memory
  • Alternative Communication when necessary (sign language, writing, art)

The goal of any speech therapist is to make your child feel more comfortable in society and communicate. Reduction of frustration and anxiety benefits the child and the parent while giving the child a better chance at success. In addition to assisting the child, parents play an important role in therapy. You spend the most time with your child and know your child best. When you have the correct tools and resources, you can continue treating at home where your child is comfortable.

For more information, contact a local clinic, like Eastern Carolina ENT Head & Neck Surgery.