Speech Therapists play a critical role in the language and speech development of youngsters around the world. Speech therapists help prevent, diagnosis, assess, and treat language disorders, speech delays, difficulties with social communication, cognitive disorders and more. For kids, speech therapists will assess on a developmental spectrum for both language and speech delays and disorders. Little Steps chats with Carrie Spaeth-Raine about early intervention and overall speech therapy concerns for parents. Check out the video, top recommendations and resources, and tips for parents.
Typically, speech therapists are contacted when the child is young and putting their first words together (age 2). Others get contacted later on when the child enters school and the school suggests the child see a speech therapist. Either way, early intervention is always the most helpful.
What should you do next?
1. Reach out to a speech therapists to get their feedback. They can determine if you should take the next step for assessment or if it should be more of a wait and see approach.
2. Next, you can get your child's hearing assessed (especially if your child is not talking). This can determine if there is a hearing issue or perhaps a need for grommits. An ENTcan help lead this recommendation.
Language and play develop in parallel. It's very important for kids to engage and interact and learn through play. A typical session with a young child or one that is working on one sound is typically around 30 minutes. Others can move up to an hour of therapy as they get used to the process and play-based program. The therapist can make a recommendation in terms of how often in a week is recommended.
1. What are advantages of speech therapy sessions in the classroom at school versus privately? When kids are taken out of the classroom, therapists can focus on a specific skill. However, working with kids in the classroom, there are loads of benefits as well. Therapists can engage with the teachers and this also motivates the child in a social setting (including boosting their confidence with peers).
2. How about group sessions? Group sessions are ideal to promote social communication skills.
3. How do you get a child motivated to do speech therapy? Therapists and parents need to be fun, get at the child's level, and they should not put pressure on the kids to communicate. Many people "test" kids. Therapists recommend avoiding questions and instead making comments instead to encourage chat.
4. Are parents recommended to go into sessions? Yes, it helps establish more trust and routine and also helps parents take home the learnings and apply them at home.
Schools want to support kids. If you decide to do speech therapy outside of the school, it is important to keep the school in communication with what you are working on and how you can apply it inside the classroom. Every therapist has a different way of communicating and it's important to have parents and the schools on the same page in terms of overall communication.
Early intervention - For the young ones (ages 2-4), you typically see language issues as they are too young to be assessed on the speech side. There is a difference between speech and language. Speech is the actual sounds you use to create language. Language is the code (the words you use). Going further, language delays can be expressive and/or receptive. An expressive delay means the child understands everything, but can not express themselves with words. A receptive delay means they have a hard time understanding.
Common Speech Issues:
Early school ages- For this age (Kindergarten +), you start looking at speech issues and you want to make sure your child has all their sounds. This can also be where lisps appear and need to be addressed. You also see a lot of language delays at this age.
Older school ages- You can see expressive issues (verbal or writing), understanding details of lessons (comprehension), knowing what letters respond to sounds, and executive functioning (planning/organizing) areas to improve.
After an assessment, you make a plan with your therapists. You work on your child's baseline and this helps you measure progress. Therapists want kids to be successful so they typically do not put a timeframe on it. They will work on achieving the developmental goals and closing the gap so the child can move on and excel. How important is early intervention? It's key! Research shows that you will be in therapy for less time in the long term if you catch it early.
Extra tip for parents? Keep a journal of their speech development. This will help see the week to week progress and help you see overall development.
Special thank you to Carrie Spaeth-Raine, a fabulous speech therapist at SPOT for sharing her insight. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.