What is Speech-Language Therapy?

By AASLNovember 2, 2021

The ability to communicate with others is an essential part of everyday life. Communication development consists of acquiring basic interaction skills, non-verbal means of communicating, speech sounds, receptive and expressive language, social skills, and play. 

Beginning as an infant through toddlerhood, children learn sounds and language through interactions with their communication partners. They develop early social skills and progress their learning through these interactions and play with others. Early feeding abilities also play a role in subsequent speech development.  As a child ages to elementary school, speech sounds should predominantly all be acquired, and a wide variety of language concepts and structures should be understood and used by a child. Processing questions and directions and using a variety of vocabulary within more complex utterances are all taking place. Children grow in their abilities to read and write within the school years as well and how to make and keep friends. By the teenage years, an individual should understand and use higher-level language concepts, comprehend a variety of texts, express their thoughts effectively within writing, and be competent with their social skills across settings.

Speech and language therapy concentrates on optimizing a child’s ability to build necessary skills for communication throughout the above stages, subsequently improving his/her connection with others, learning potential, and enhancing quality of life.

Speech-Language therapy provides specialized, skilled instruction to directly target a child’s communication weaknesses while building upon existing strengths in order to allow a child overall communicative success across environments.  Each treatment plan is unique to address a child’s and family’s individual needs.

Who Are Speech-Language Therapists?

In short, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are skilled healthcare professionals who are experts in communication! They are trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat a variety of speech and language difficulties across developmental areas such as speech production, language, play, social communication, feeding, voice/fluency, reading, writing, and academics.

SLPs provide comprehensive evaluations across these domains through the use of standardized measures, as well as informal assessment, to determine a child’s strengths and weaknesses relative to communication, given his/her age and development.  

SLPs use their skill set to directly target areas of development that are below age and developmental expectations.  SLPs incorporate the use of evidence-based practice into client-centered treatment, focusing on delivering quality therapy that is individualized to best meet the needs of each client. Goals are created for each specific domain affected, and a comprehensive treatment program begins with weekly therapy appointments.  During therapy sessions, SLPs embed a child’s goals into fun, creative activities while providing support to work toward independence across settings: from therapy to home, school, the community, and beyond.  

SLPs also provide support to families/caregivers, educators, and other professionals to share strategies and collaborate so that gains are promoted outside the direct therapy setting. 

SLPs are highly trained to work with children with many varying disabilities, as well as children who are “typically” developing and just in need of some added support! 

Who and How We Help!

If a child experiences difficulties across the following domains, he/she may benefit from a speech-language evaluation:

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