Speech language pathology is the ability to assess, diagnose and treat children and adults with communication and swallowing disorders.  Speech language pathologists are specifically trained to look at an individual’s understanding of language (receptive language), the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas (expressive language) and the overall production of speech sounds (i.e. articulation, stuttering, and voice).  In addition to speech and language disorders, speech language pathologists have an in-depth knowledge of oral motor/feeding disorders and swallowing.  Speech and language disorders can occur as a result of a medical condition (i.e. cleft palate, Down syndrome, microcephaly) or have no related cause.  They can be mild to severe in nature and can exist independently or in combination with other disorders.

How can speech language pathology benefit my child?

Achieving speech milestones is crucial to a child’s development.  Having a delay in the area of speech and language can greatly impact a child’s ability to learn and communicate effectively.  It is important for families to attend speech therapy sessions and incorporate the child’s goals into everyday routines.  The earlier a speech and language delay or disorder is identified, the quicker the child can begin to learn new strategies and techniques to develop communication skills.

Speech therapy benefits also include:

  • Increasing intelligible speech so that others are able to understand the child (articulation)
  • Improved ability to understand and express thoughts, ideas and feelings (language)
  • Improved vocal quality
  • Increased fluency of speech
  • Safer feeding and swallowing through improved oral motor/feeding skills
  • Using language to communicate socially with peers and adults (pragmatics)
  • Success in pre-literacy, school-readiness skills and reading
  • Greater self-esteem

A parent can learn about the proper developmental milestones for a child by talking to a pediatrician.  It is important to have a qualified speech pathologist evaluate a child if a delay is expected.  This individual will be able to provide accurate information regarding the child and the potential need for speech therapy.

If your child has needed speech therapy, how has your Speech Language Pathologist helped you?

Mindy Schaefer is a Speech Language Pathologist at Penfield Children’s Center.

American Speech Association. www.asha.org

“Outcomes, Benefits and Drawbacks of Speech Therapy.” BraveKids. 2013. UCP of New York City. 6 May 2013.  <http://www.bravekids.org/health-wellness/treatments-and-therapies/speech-therapy/outcomes-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-speech-therapy/>.