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Pediatric Speech Language Pathology

Our certified pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists help children (ages 0-18) improve quality of life by maximizing their communication potential and/or feeding/swallowing function. Our SLPs work in collaboration with other members of a rehabilitation team, which may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physicians, to tailor your child's therapy to his/her individual needs. We help you formulate realistic and achievable goals for your child, and we help your child to achieve these goals. We make therapy fun and engaging, using play based strategies and games.

We provide assessment and treatment for the following:

  • Language Disorder
  • Late Language Learners
  • Speech Sound Disorders
  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech
  • Social Communication disorder
  • Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders
  • Cognitive Communication disorders
  • Voice Disorders
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Augmentative/Alternative Communication
  • Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Language Disorder

A language disorder is an impairment in comprehension and/or use of language in preschoolers, elementary school children, and adolescents. A language disorder can exist by itself or may co-occur with another condition (such as autism.) Your child may have a language disorder if he/she has: slow vocabulary development for age, shorter utterances and/or uses less complex sentence structure than typical for age, difficulty using grammar appropriately, difficulty with reading and writing, or difficulty understanding new words and following directions.

What can cause/be associated with a Language Disorder?

  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD),
  • intellectual disabilities (ID) and developmental disabilities (DD),
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
  • traumatic brain injury (TBI),
  • hearing loss
  • family history/genetics

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child's language skills and will consider hearing, cognitive level, and speech production skills, as these areas are related to language development. Therapy will help stimulate language development and improve the effectiveness of communication and academic and social success.

Late Language Learners

Late language learners (aka “late talkers”) are toddlers (typically ages 2-4) who develop language more slowly than typical for their age and do not have other diagnosed disabilities. They may have delays in oral language expression (including use of vocabulary, sentence structure, and articulation) and comprehension. Late talkers may be at risk for developing language and/or literacy difficulties as they age.

What are some risk factors for Late Language Learners?

  • gender—boys are at higher risk than girls
  • delayed motor development
  • birth status—low birth weight and premature birth
  • family history

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child's language skills. Your SLP will identify the nature/severity of the language delay and its effect on communication, assess if there are risk factors for late language development, and screen your child's global developmental skills. Therapy will help stimulate language development to enhance communication and promote your ability to support your child's development.

Speech Sound Disorders

Speech sound disorders include articulation disorders (in which individual speech sounds are produced incorrectly) and phonological disorders (in which there are predictable patterns of errors that affect more than one sound.) Both phonological and articulation disorders can impact your child's ability to speak clearly and be understood.

What are risk factors for Speech Sound Disorder?

  • Persistent ear infections and hearing loss
  • Family history of speech disorder
  • Complications during delivery, preterm delivery, and low birthweight
  • Gender (higher incidence in boys)

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child's speech. There are a variety of treatment approaches for speech sound disorders, but the goal typically is to improve your child’s ability to speak like same age peers and to speak clearly so others can understand. Your SLP may train your child to use strategies that can improve speech, such as slowing down when talking.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

CAS is a neurological speech disorder in which a child may have difficulty producing, sequencing, and coordinating speech sounds. Symptoms include: speech that is difficult to understand, errored speech sounds (for vowels and consonants), inconsistent errors and fluctuating speech, increased difficulty producing longer words, and slowed rate of speech. There may be other areas of motor incoordination (such as gross and fine motor incoordination and/or clumsiness) and co-occurring language and literacy difficulty.

What can be associated with Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

  • Genetics and family history
  • Neurobehavioral disorders (such as autism, Fragile X, and epilepsy)
  • Neurological events (infection, trauma, early childhood stroke, etc)

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child’s speech and language skills. Your SLP will help your child increase speech production and intelligibility or, when indicated, use Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC), such as gestures/signs, voice output devices, and communication boards. Therapy will help your child communicate more effectively within daily life.

Social Communication Disorder

A Social Communication Disorder affects a child's ability to communicate effectively in a social setting. Some examples are difficulty: using greetings appropriately; telling or understanding stories; initiating, maintaining, and ending conversation; and making and keeping friendships. Social communication disorder can result in difficulty participating in social settings, developing relationships, achieving academic success, and performing successfully on the job in adulthood.

What can cause a Social Communication Disorder?

  • Autism
  • May co-occur with other conditions, such as intellectual disability, learning disabilities, ADHD, and traumatic brain injury.
  • Cause not always known

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child's social communication skills. The SLP will help your child acquire new skills and strategies to successfully participate in social situations, including one on one and group interactions. Therapy will facilitate increased engagement and independence for your child in natural, social communication situations.

Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Children with feeding disorders may: avoid or restrict food intake, demonstrate abnormal self-feeding skills and/or mealtime behaviors, be unable to use developmentally appropriate feeding utensils, and experience less than optimal growth. Swallowing disorders relate more to the function of swallowing (i.e. how safely and efficiently your child can swallow liquids and/or foods), and can result in aspiration—when liquid, food, or saliva enters the airway/lungs.

What can cause Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders?

  • Developmental disability
  • Factors affecting neuromuscular coordination (such as prematurity, low birth weight)
  • Genetic syndromes (such as Down syndrome, Pierre Robin Sequence, Rett syndrome)
  • Neurological disorders (such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, muscle weakness in face and neck)
  • Structural abnormalities (such as cleft lip and/or palate)
  • Behavioral factors (e.g., food refusal)

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will evaluate your child's feeding and swallowing. This may include: an interview regarding your child’s developmental history and swallowing problem; an examination of the face and mouth; assessment of sucking, breast feeding, bottle feeding, and/or spoon feeding; observation of your child eating (or being fed by a family member); and/or an X-ray swallow study. Treatment is designed to: promote safe/adequate nutrition and hydration, determine ideal feeding methods, help your child achieve age-appropriate eating skills, and minimize the risk of aspiration.

Cognitive Communication Disorders

A cognitive-communication disorder can involve difficulty with: memory, attention, organization, problem solving, safety awareness, decision making, social judgment, and planning. Problems can make it difficult to learn and remember, stay on task at school, read and follow instructions, complete homework assignments, and maintain adequate grades in school.

What can cause a Cognitive-Communication Disorder in Children?

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Cognitive communication disorders may co-occur with other conditions (such as ADHD, learning disabilities, spoken and written language disorders)

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child’s cognitive-communication skills. Treatment may be designed to improve cognitive skills and/or help your child compensate for such difficulties. For example, an SLP can train your child to use memory strategies and tools to aid memory, even if memory difficulty persists. Therapy can help your child improve academic performance and develop skills that are important for work in adulthood.

Voice Disorders

A voice disorder (aka “dysphonia”) occurs when the voice does not meet a person’s daily communication needs. Dysphonia may sound like a hoarse, breathy, quiet, strained/strangled voice, or a voice that cuts in and out. The voice may feel fatigued with use. Voice problems may be constant, or they may come and go.

What can cause a Voice Disorder in Children?

  • Abuses and misuses of the voice (such as yelling, making loud “play sounds,” excessive throat clearing and coughing)
  • Laryngeal web
  • Lesions (like bumps or growths) on the vocal folds
  • Patterns of muscle strain when talking
  • Acid reflux
  • Vocal fold paralysis

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child’s voice. Voice therapy involves exercises designed to improve the balance between your child’s breathing, voicing, and resonance. Therapy will help your child use voice optimally for improved communication in daily life.

Fluency Disorders

Fluency disorders include “stuttering” and “cluttering” and affect the flow of speaking. Symptoms include an abnormal speech rate or rhythm and dysfluencies (in which sounds are repeated or prolonged, or the sound seems “blocked” because it is difficult to initiate the sound.) Speech may feel effortful, and there may be physical tension when talking. People who stutter may experience embarrassment and anxiety about their speech.

What can be associated with a Fluency Disorder?

  • Genetics
  • Neurophysiological Factors (differences in brain structure and function)

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child’s speech. Your SLP may train your child to use techniques to prevent stuttering and to stop stuttering in the moment. Your child may practice using stuttering techniques in a variety of speaking situations/settings, with your SLP providing feedback and encouragement as needed. Your SLP may also train you to facilitate “smoother” speech for your child.

Augmentative/Alternative Communication

When a child can’t speak or comprehend effectively, he/she may benefit from AAC, which involves various techniques/tools to communicate in non-traditional means. AAC strategies can supplement a child’s existing speech or be an alternative to speech when speech is not functional. AAC can be no-tech (like gestures/signs), low tech (like symbols or pictures) or high tech (like a speech generating device, which produces synthesized speech to help a child communicate).

Who May Benefit From Augmentative/Alternative Communication?

  • Children who can’t speak or are very difficult to understand
  • Children with conditions that affect communication, such as autism and childhood apraxia of speech.

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will assess your child’s communication potential using a variety of techniques/tools. Your SLP will consider your child’s language/cognitive skills, fine motor skills, vision, hearing, and positioning when making recommendations for techniques/tools that will help your child communicate. Assessment is an ongoing process that continues throughout therapy, as AAC systems need to evolve as the child’s communication abilities evolve. Therapy will help maximize effective communication between your child and his/her communication partners across the lifespan.

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

OMDs occur when there is an imbalance of the oral and facial muscles that interferes with normal growth, development, or function of orofacial structures. OMDs can co-occur with speech and swallowing disorders and can affect children and adults. Symptoms of OMDs include abnormal resting postures of the tongue, lips, and teeth; dental abnormalities; abnormal speech; and abnormal tongue behavior during swallowing (including a tongue forward position.)

What can contribute to an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

  • Obstructed nasal passages (such as with enlarged tonsils or allergies)
  • Chronic oral habits (like thumb or pacifier sucking)
  • Orofacial muscular/structural differences (such as tongue tie)

How can Speech Therapy help?

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) will thoroughly evaluate your child’s oral rest postures and speech and swallowing patterns. This includes getting a history about current and past feeding behaviors, oral habits, and related medical information. Your child may require treatment for allergies and/or enlarged tonsils prior to beginning speech therapy. Your SLP will facilitate any necessary referrals to other professionals who may be able to assist (i.e., an ear/nose/throat physician or an orthodontist.) In therapy, your SLP will help your child eliminate abnormal oral behaviors. Therapy will help ensure normal orofacial and dental development now and in the future.