10 Ways a Speech-Language Pathologist Can Help Your Child

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Communication

Speech-Language Pathologist. Speech Pathologist. Speech Teacher. Known by many names, people refer to these specialists most often as speech therapists. They work with children with a variety of delays and disorders spanning from mild articulation delays to more complex disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, hearing impairment, motor speech disorders, and other developmental delays.

SLP’s, as they are called for short, are the specialists that help your child with speech, talking and communication. However you may be surprised at how broad this field of speech-language pathology really is and  just how many skill areas SLPs are trained to build and expand in young children.

An SLP can help your child with…

1. Articulation Skills/Speech Intelligibility

Articulation is the physical ability to move the tongue, lips, jaw and palate (known as the articulators) to produce individual speech sounds which we call phonemes. For example, to articulate the /b/ sound, we need to inhale, then while exhaling we need to turn our voice on, bring our slightly tensed lips together to stop and build up the airflow, and then release the airflow by parting our lips.

Intelligibility, refers to how well people can understand your child’s speech. If a child’s articulation skills are compromised for any reason, his intelligibility will be decreased in compared to other children his age. SLP’s can work with your child to teach them how to produce the specific speech sounds or sound patterns that he is having difficulty with, and thus increasing his overall speech intelligibility.You can read more about articulation development and delays here.

2. Expressive Language Skills

While speech involves the physical motor ability to talk, language is a symbolicrule governed system used to convey a message. In English, the symbols can be words, either spoken or written. We also have gestural symbols like shrugging our shoulders to indicate “I don’t know” or waving to indicate “Bye Bye” or the raising of our eye brows to indicate that we are surprised by something.

Expressive language then, refers to what your child says. Speech-language pathologists can help your child learn new words and how to put them together to form phrases and sentences (semantics and syntax) so that your child can communicate to you and others. You can read more about the difference between speech and language here.

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Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

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