Welcome to the first post for “Let’s Talk About.” In this series, I will talk about important topics regarding pediatric speech therapy. I hope to provide families up-to-date information on topics that can help them communicate with their children and improve speech/language skills. Parents are the main teachers in a child’s life, and nothing done in therapy will make a difference without the love and support of their family. My goal is to discuss a related topic each week, provide developmental information, and list a few activities parents can try at home with their kids. Feel free to email me if you are interested in having a particular topic.
I’ve already discussed what a speech/language pathologist is in this post here. Speech/language pathologists have seen a rise in their caseloads through the years. Research from the NIH found that nearly 1 in 12 children had a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder. Speech problems are most prevalent at 5%. Language disorders are at 3.3%. Voice disorders ranks at 1.4%. Often children have more than one area affected.
Early diagnosis and treatment has shown to help kids make progress. I personally find that the most progress happens from 2-5 years of age. Typically parents are the first to have a concern. Sometimes it is family members, teachers, or a pediatrician that raises the concern. The family must decide what setting suits their needs when finding a therapist. A speech/language pathologist can work in early intervention, schools, hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
Evaluation and Treatment
At the evaluation, a speech/language pathologist evaluates the child and provides a diagnosis and goals for treatment. Treatment frequency depends on the severity of the disorder. Generally a child has therapy once or twice a week. Sessions vary from 30 to 60 minutes. Therapy session can be individual or group depending on needs of the child, setting, and goals.
For young child, therapy is typically play-based with parent involvement. Having parents participate in therapy sessions is important to help with carry-over of strategies at home between sessions. Often parents want to know how long therapy may take. It is always hard to give an answer to that question. It depends on a lot of different factors.
- a child’s age, ability to focus
- severity of the disorder
- family involvement
- frequency of session cancellations
- child’s own motivation
It is always time for celebration when your child is making progress with speech therapy. Some time the child is discharged when goals are met. Other times the child may come less often for a few weeks before discharge. It’s good to have a re-evaluation 6 months to a year after discharge if you continue to have concerns or progress is no longer continuing.
Next week we will being to talk about the different diagnosis treated in speech therapy.