How to help students who need speech therapy.
Parents often first learn of their children's strengths and shortcomings when children are exposed to classroom settings and compared to their fellow students. It is here where teachers may first recognize obstacles that could hinder students as they pursue their education.
Parents of preschool and kindergarteners may be made aware of speech issues that may require therapy to address. The good news is that children often make tremendous strides once they are enrolled in speech therapy. Although determining if a child needs speech therapy can sometimes be confusing and take some effort and testing, parents who receive such a diagnosis about their youngster will need to focus on some skills that can alleviate speech concerns.
Many children require speech therapy because of a speech delay or an issue with articulating. This relates to the clarity of speech sounds and overall speech. A child's speech begins with initial sounds as they mimic the adults around them, which will then form words and phrases. It's common for young children who have difficulty with certain speech sounds to substitute easier sounds for certain letters or sound blends. But if inconsistent speech articulation or improper sound usage extends beyond a certain age, this may require treatment.
Fluency and resonance
Some children receive speech therapy due to disorders like stuttering or prolonging sounds and syllables. When the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages or repetition, this can be distracting to both the child and those around him or her.
Some children have problems with the pitch, volume or quality of their voice. These problems can distract listeners from what's being said and make it difficult to communicate.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, childhood apraxia of speech, or CAS, is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables and words. The brain has difficulty moving the mouth for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but the brain does not send the correct message to move the muscles accordingly. Children with CAS are typically assessed earlier than school age.
Parents who suspect their child has a speech-language concern should first consult with a pediatrician and talk to their child's teacher. If the speech problem is not causing any learning difficulty or making it hard for teachers and fellow students to understand the child, intervention may not be necessary. However, if the child is embarrassed or getting frustrated with those who do not understand him or her, it may be in the student's best interest to be assessed.
Speech-language pathologists are trained in speech therapy and are most qualified to make assessments of a child's speech abilities. This person will provide a thorough articulation assessment and conduct a medical history inquiry to determine if there is a need for treatment.
A good speech pathologist will conduct an evaluation in a way that is comfortable for the child. Toys and games may be part of the assessment. Sometimes parents are allowed to remain in the room. Physical skills, vocabulary and grammar also will be checked.
Once the source of the problem has been identified, a therapist can develop a treatment plan to fix some of the problems. Homework exercises can help parents continue lessons between therapy sessions.
Many parents opt to work with a speech-language pathologist one-on-one. These services may be covered through a health insurance plan. School districts may offer low- or no-cost speech therapy for students who need speech assistance. These may be conducted in solo sessions or as part of a group. Parents should inquire about speech testing at their child's school and if any services are offered. (Metro Creative Graphics)