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Speech therapy is the assessment and treatment of communication problems and speech disorders. It is performed by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), who are often referred to as speech therapists.

Speech therapy can help children learn to speak more clearly and effectively. This helps them feel more confident and less frustrated about communicating with others. Children who have language issues can benefit socially, emotionally, and academically from speech therapy, which is especially beneficial when children begin early in life.

For children with reading issues associated with disorders such as dyslexia, speech therapy can help them hear and distinguish specific sounds in words and build, strengthen, and develop the skills necessary to become a more fluent and competent reader. This can improve reading comprehension skills and encourage children to read.

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There are many kinds of speech and language disorders that can affect children.

There are four major  areas in which impairments occur.

  • Articulation speech impairments where the child produces sounds incorrectly (for example, difficulty articulating certain sounds, such as “l” or “r”)

  • Fluency  speech impairments where a child’s flow of speech is disrupted

  • Voice  speech impairments where the child’s voice has an abnormal quality to its pitch, resonance, or loudness

  • Language  language impairments where the child has problems expressing needs, ideas, or information, and/or in understanding what others say.

These areas are reflected in how “speech or language impairment” is defined in special education law. In Michigan, children with speech and language difficulties can qualify for special education supports and services under Speech and Language Impairment (SLI).

Your child may be referred to a speech therapist for one or more of the following observed needs:

  • Speech delay

  • Cognitive or developmental delay

  • Dyslexia

  • Stutter

  • Lisp

  • Hearing difficulties

  • Lip and tongue tie

  • Difficulty with oral motor skill development

  • Traumatic brain injury

  • Feeding and swallowing dysfunction

  • Strengthening weak oral muscles

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

A child may need a Speech-Language screening, evaluation, and/or ongoing treatment if they are having difficulty with one or more of the following:

  • Being understood by others

  • Following directions

  • Communicating wants/needs/thoughts/ideas effectively

  • Frequently repeating words/phrases or perseverating on ideas

  • Initiating interactions or conversation

  • Responding to others

  • Eating a variety of foods (eats only 4-5 foods, may gag on certain textures, etc.)

  • Frequent drooling

  • Difficulty interpreting social cues/gestures/facial expressions/etc.

Wondering if your child could use the specialized help of a speech and language pathologist? Speech therapy for children is especially helpful and important if your child has encountered a speech delay, has struggles articulating, or faces other common language issues. You can find top-rated speech-language pathologists here, thanks to parents like you who nominate them every year.

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