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5 Ways a Speech Pathologist can help your child

5 Ways an SLP Can Help Your Child

1. Speech Sound Productions

Speech sound production is the clarity of words produced by your child. Another word you will hear used is intelligibility. This basically means do you (and strangers) understand the words your child is saying? You know that you child needs some help with speech sounds if you are having to translate for most people.

Here are a few ways that speech intelligibility is impacted:

Omissions:  When a sound is omitted or left out (ish for fish, wing for swing)

Substitutions:  When a sound is substituted for another: (/t/ for /k/ so ‘can’ is ‘tan’)

Distortions:  The sound is just not as precise and sounds a little off.

Additions: When an extra sound or syllable is added to a word (puh-lease for please)

These errors are analyzed by a speech pathologist to decide the best approach to treatment based on the patterns your child exhibits. There are 2 primary approaches/disorders at this age:

  1. Articulation – Articulation disorders exist when the child has difficulty producing specific sounds based on movement of articulators. This usually means their lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, etc. are not moving to the correct place.
  2. Phonological Disorder – Phonological Processes are patterns that kids use to simplify speech and are most common in children ages 3-5. As kids get older they eliminate these processes and start to sound more adult like. Saying lip for slip, tat for cat, doe for go, pish for fish, are examples of processes that impact intelligibility.

2. Expressive Language

Expressive language is a really broad term for the words we say to convey a message. For kids under the age of 3 we are typically working on how they use language for a variety if functions: protesting, requesting items, and commenting on what they see. Some little ones will yell, kick and scream to get what they want. That, my friends, is actually a form of communication! Not very appropriate, but still a way to tell an adult – I want something. Because the younger kids don’t always have the ability to produce words they use gestures, facial expressions and even sign language paired with verbal communication. These are all forms of expressive language that an SLP can target with your youngest little communicators.

For the kids 3 and up we look at how they use language to communicate what they know and want with words (yes, this can include writing too!) The elementary age group might have issues with pronouns (him is going to the park), verb tenses (daddy goed to the store), and sentence structures. These skills are important in the academic setting as teachers expect your children to tell them what they know and explain their thinking.

3. Receptive Language

Simply put, receptive language is how well you understand and comprehend language. Imagine trying to listen to a tv show and the signal isn’t clear and every other sentence is interrupted with static. You would have hard time comprehending the message. Heck, you might even turn the channel! Children who have challenges with understanding language feel the same way. We are constantly listening and taking in information, but for kids who have difficulties with attention, following directions, processing of incoming information and listening skills, this makes learning especially difficult.

Kids that have challenges with receptive language will answer questions incorrectly (what did you have for breakfast? – in the kitchen), they will have a hard time following multistep directions in and out of the classroom, “grab your shoes and put on your coat”, OR “get your green writing notebook and turn to page 14.” SLP’s help to give strategies for listening comprehension and teach ways to make learning easier.

4. Social Communication

Social communication is the way we interact with others to make and keep friends. This involves an awareness of others and being able to understand the hidden messages they share. Reading body language, taking the perspective of others, understanding figurative language and inferences, and how you gain a peers attention are all part of our pragmatic and social skill set.

Think about going to the beach….Your child sees another family eating lunch. He realizes he’s hungry too. Knowing that you cannot go over and take someone’s sandwich is part of the hidden rules of communication. SLP’s can work on teaching social skills in a concrete way so that kids are able to understand how their actions and thoughts impact those of others, how to be a good friend, and how to take the perspective of others.

Most people associate social skill issues with kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but there are SO many kids who need some social support who do not have ASD! It way more common than you would think!

5. Fluency/Stuttering

Stuttering is a type of speech disorder when speech is halted or stopped due to repetitions, prolongations and/or blocks. Now, everyone stutters from time to time. We fumble over our words and interject “um” and “ahh”. There are some types of dysfluencies that are considered typical. So how do you know if it’s a problem? When it becomes frequent and interferes with communication that’s when it becomes problematic.

Repetitions: M-m-m-m- mom, can we g-g-g-go to Target? OR Mom, can can can can we go to Target?

Prolongations: mmmmmmmmmmom, Can we go tooooooo Target?

Blocks: Mom, C———an w———e go to Target?

If any of these types of stuttering are present along with secondary behaviors such as tension in the face, lips, or jaw, eye blinking, head nodding or hand clenching an SLP can work to lessen the severity and frequency of the stuttering while also providing strategies for more fluent speech.

Speech Language Pathologists (SLP’s) can help children in so many ways! This list is by no means all that SLP’s can do, just a sampling of some of the most common areas serviced in the pediatric population. Take a little peek to see if you could benefit!

Well, there you have it. A short and sweet look at how an SLP can help your child learn, and communicate. If you have any comments, want something explained further, or have another area discussed please share your thoughts below!

Amanda 🙂

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