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Speech Therapy

What is pediatric speech therapy?


Pediatric Speech therapy involves addressing the unique needs of a child in the acquisition of language skills to allow them to effectively communicate their desires and needs in specific settings. The development of speech and language communication begins within the minutes and hours of birth. Children start to pair the communicative partnership with their caregivers and parents when they are fed and they begin to hear voices and sounds to orient them to the world. Infant’s gross motor movements set the stage for the development of oral motor movements needed to provide the muscular and joint support for both feeding and talking. Before babies start to babble, they are learning to associate sounds with emotions such as a parent speaking in a gentle soothing voice or the rhythmic patterns of songs. They also learn that an outburst of a cry will bring them what they need (a parent’s touch, food, a new diaper), or eye contact will beckon a person who may come over and talk to the baby. Therefore, it is important to recognize that pediatric speech therapy may address non-verbal communication as an important precursor to the development of verbal speech and language.


Pediatric speech therapy may also address feeding challenges in the infant or child such as struggles with transitioning from pureed foods to first solids and/or challenges with learning to chew. Pediatric speech therapy utilizes age appropriate movement and play to facilitate the child to be actively engaged in the communication process. For children experiencing a pragmatic deficit, speech therapy is able to facilitate development of social pragmatics. Social communication, or pragmatics, refers to the way in which children use language within social situations. It includes using language for specific purposes such as greeting, requesting and sharing information. An equally important component is the understanding of “rules of conversation” such as conversational turn taking, non-verbal communication of facial expressions and gestures. Speech therapy may begin as soon as an infant demonstrates any concerns such as the absence of babbling during active movement of the infant or when movement is imposed by the play activity, or upon difficulty with feeding.

Does my child need speech therapy?

Speech therapy is appropriate for children who exhibit any of the following difficulties:

  • Expressive language disorders

  • Receptive language disorders

  • Phonology disorders (difficulty with production of age appropriate sounds)

  • Dysarthria

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech

  • Central auditory processing disorder

  • Fluency/stuttering disorders

  • Articulation difficulties

  • Developmental disorders (Autistic Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Pediatric Anxiety)

  • Pragmatic/social language disorders

  • Communication disorders related to Autistic disorders

  • Communication disorders due to genetic disorders

  • Communication challenges requiring alternative augmentative communication  (AAC)

  • Feeding for children with structural, oral motor, or sensory based difficulties

  • Learning disabilities (reading, writing and/or spelling)

  • Medical disorders (Cleft lip/palate, traumatic brain injury, genetic disorders, chromosomal anomalies)

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