Speech-Language & Feeding Therapy

Mairead Finn, SLP
Pediatric Feeding and
Speech-Language Pathologist  
SLP 17251
Profile
Glenna Milleman, SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
SLP 11380
Profile

Speech-Language Pathologists diagnose and treat challenges with speech articulation and voice/sound production. They also address challenges with expressive language (communicating ideas or emotions to others) and receptive language (receiving and processing language, and understanding others).

Kidshealth.org provides a thorough description of the kinds of disorders and challenges that a trained speech-language pathologist may address and when they might be needed: 

 

Common Speech-Language Disorders

Speech disorders include:
  • Articulation disorders: difficulties producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners can't understand what's being said.

  • Fluency disorders: problems such as stuttering, in which the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages, partial-word repetitions ("b-b-boy"), or prolonging sounds and syllables (sssssnake).

  • Resonance or voice disorders: problems with the pitch, volume, or quality of the voice that distract listeners from what's being said. These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for a child when speaking.

Language disorders can be either receptive or expressive:
  • Receptive disorders: difficulties understanding or processing language.

  • Expressive disorders: difficulty putting words together, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.

  • Cognitive-communication disorders: difficulty with communication skills that involve memory, attention, perception, organization, regulation, and problem solving.

Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders are disorders in the way someone eats or drinks, including problems with chewing, swallowing, coughing, gagging, and refusing foods.
 

Remediation

In speech-language therapy, an SLP will work with a child one-on-one, in a small group, or directly in a classroom to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder.

 

Therapists use a variety of strategies, including:
  • Language intervention activities: The SLP will interact with a child by playing and talking, using pictures, books, objects, or ongoing events to stimulate language development. The therapist may also model correct vocabulary and grammar and use repetition exercises to build language skills.

  • Articulation therapy: Articulation, or sound production, exercises involve having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables in words and sentences for a child, often during play activities. The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child's specific needs. The SLP will physically show the child how to make certain sounds, such as the "r" sound, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds.

  • Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: The SLP may use a variety of oral exercises — including facial massage and various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises — to strengthen the muscles of the mouth for eating, drinking, and swallowing. The SLP may also introduce different food textures and temperatures to increase a child's oral awareness during eating and swallowing.

  • AAC: Alternative and Augmentative Communication: The SLP assists children to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas when verbal speech is not functional. They use tools such as picture and symbol communication boards and electronic devices to scaffold communication. Benefits of AAC may include improved socialization at home and in school, enhanced communication skills, and improved confidence.  

When Might Therapy Needed?

Kids might need speech-language therapy for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Hearing impairments

  • Cognitive (intellectual, thinking) or other developmental delays

  • Weak oral muscles

  • Chronic hoarseness

  • Birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate

  • Autism

  • Motor planning problems

  • Articulation problems

  • Fluency disorders

  • Respiratory problems (breathing disorders)

  • Feeding and swallowing disorders

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)