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A Speech and Language Pathologist is a specialist who has completed undergraduate and graduate degrees from an accredited university.  Accredited specialists must also participate in in two, 16-week internships of on-site training within a hospital or clinical setting.  Upon successful completion of the academic and clinical work, the therapist must successfully pass a national exam administered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and then apply for licensure.  All licensed Speech and Language Pathologists will receive the Certificate of Clinical Competence that they will display following their signature (CCC-SLP).

If you suspect that your child’s communication skills are not consistent with their peers, address these concerns with your pediatrician and ask for a referral for a Speech and Language evaluation by a certified Speech and Language Pathologist.  Early intervention is the key to establishing competent communication skills, sound social-emotional development, and in establishing future learning capability.  Here are some key warning signs to look for:

Birth to Six Months

·         Lack of response to sound

·         Lack of interest in communication

·         Feeding problems

·         Doesn’t localize to sound

Six to Twelve Months

·         Groping or awkward movements when attempting to make or imitate sounds

·         Limited sound production, child doesn’t attempt to imitate speech

·         Feeding, chewing and/or swallowing difficulties

·         Doesn’t respond to smiles and verbal interaction

Twelve to Twenty-Four Months

·         Has difficulty understanding simple words or directions

·         Cannot answer simple yes/no questions

·         Cannot name simple objects/actions

·         Limited vocabulary

·         Poor eye contact

·         Limited social interaction

·         Difficulty sitting for listening activities or stories

·         Grunting/gesturing as main form of communication

·         Groping or awkward movements when attempting to make or imitate sounds

Three to Four Year Olds

·         Limited Vocabulary

·         Communicating with 1-3 words or phrases instead of using sentences

·         Increased frustration when not understood

·         Unclear speech that is not easily understood outside of those that live in the home

·         Not able to follow multi-step directions

·         Unable to answer the “W” questions (who, what, where, when, why)

Early intervention is the key to later success.  Please review the developmental guidelines above and always consult your child’s pediatrician.  As always, we are here by phone and email to answer your questions and address your concerns about your child’s development.

A speech disorder is characterized by errors of articulation. Simply put, this means not pronouncing letters correctly.  Some commonly mispronounced sounds are /s/, /th/, /f/, /l/, /r/, and /sh/. These errors can occur in the beginning, middle or ends of words.  They may be occasionally produced correctly, but the majority of them are not.  At times, these errors may make it difficult for your child to be understood, and they may become frustrated by that.

This area has two parts:

Receptive Language: How we understand what is said to us, our ability to comprehend.

Expressive Language: How we express our thoughts and ideas in words, phrases and sentences.

If your child is having difficulty understanding spoken language, this is likely going to have trouble expressing themselves, too. This likely is a receptive/expressive language disorder. But, if your child seems to understand perfectly but still has a hard time organizing their thoughts into sentences, they would have an expressive language disorder.

Apraxia of Speech is a motor-speech programming disorder.  Simply stated, the difficulty for these children comes when they attempt to combine sounds to form words.  They may have the ability to say the sounds individually, but they have trouble sequencing all of the movements necessary to combine them into words, phrases and sentences.  Their speech is often highly unintelligible and they can become very frustrated.

Many children between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 experience non-fluent moments in their speech.  This occurs during the peak language development years and is due to the rapid rate at which our children are learning to communicate effectively. They can become overwhelmed and then exhibit stuttering behaviors.  These are typically short-lived and correct themselves with time. 

The following are some warning signs that may warrant a second opinion:

·         Struggle and tension in their body language as they are working thru the dysfluency

·         Tremors or uncontrolled quivering of the lips or tongue while the child is repeating or prolonging the sound

·         Prolonging a sound or syllable, such as rrrrrrrun or part word repetitions, such as ta-ta-ta-table

·         If you feel that you are witnessing any of these signs or that the frequency of your child’s dysfluencies are increasing, please contact our office to talk about it.

All children develop differently.  It is best to consult a professional that can evaluate and make appropriate recommendations.

Contact us here at Small Talk to set up an appointment with one of our accredited Speech and Language Pathologists. Early intervention is key! We are here to help.

No!  Parents do not cause speech or language disorders. These are developmental in nature and, with the correct intervention, are very treatable.  What we do know is that part of your child’s intervention will involve some work at home. If you participate in your home program regularly, your child will improve at a faster rate!