What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy is a program used to help children who have trouble with speaking. Treatment is provided by a speech therapist, also known as a speech-language pathologist.
There are many different reasons why speech therapy might be needed. In childhood, speech therapy is often used to help children who have:
- birth defect problems like cleft palate or cleft lip
- delayed speech
- hearing problems
- problems with forming words or sentences
- developmental delays
- other language problems.
When should therapy start?
The earlier speech therapy is started the better. Children who start therapy before age 3 usually improve faster and do better than older children. Older children may make slower progress because they often have to learn how to change they way they are using speech or language.
What happens during speech therapy?
A speech therapist will test your child and find out the types of speech and language skills that he or she needs to work on. Therapy includes training and repetitive exercises and use of devices that can make it easier for some children to speak. Speech therapists also work closely with the family members who will help care for the person.
The therapist may work one-on-one with your child or in a small group. During therapy your child may do a variety of age-appropriate fun activities.
- Language exercises: During these exercises the therapist plays with and talks to your child. The therapist may model the correct way to say words and have your child repeat words and sentences.
- Articulation exercises: Articulation means the making of sounds. The therapist will do sound exercises with your child by making the correct sound or syllable of a word for the child to repeat. Your child is shown how to make the sound with his or her mouth and tongue. Your child may use a mirror to watch how the mouth and tongue move to make the correct sound.
- Relaxation and breathing exercises: Breathing techniques and relaxation exercises may be done to help your child relax the face and mouth muscles.
Where and how often will my child go to speech therapy?
How often a child has therapy depends on the particular speech problem. Your child may need to go more often at first, possibly one or more times per week. Later your child will not need to go as often and will just need to practice a lot at home.
Speech therapy may be given at a variety of places. Your child's speech therapist may be at a hospital, clinic, or even at your child's school. Ask your child's school what speech services they provide. Your child may have speech therapy at school and at a separate office as well.
How can I help my child?
Helping your child at home is very important. Parents work with the speech therapist to learn the different skills and exercises to practice. Children who complete the program quickly and with the best results are those whose parents have been involved. Overcoming speech and language problems takes time and patience. Ask the therapist what you can do to help at home.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-10-29
Last reviewed: 2010-12-29
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.