What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy is an intervention service that focuses on improving a child's/adult’s speech and abilities to understand and express language, including nonverbal language.
Speech therapy includes two components
- Coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (to address articulation, fluency, and voice volume regulation)
- Understanding and expressing language (to address the use of language through written, pictorial, body, and sign forms)
- The role of speech therapists in treating swallowing disorders has broadened to include all aspects of feeding specially in a child with Cerebral Palsy
WHY IS SPEECH THERAPY NEEDED IN NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS?
Cases with neurological disorders often show symptoms of delayed speech and language development. This delay in language can be reduced by stimulating the child with language. Language stimulation reduces the delay in language thus nearing the language age to the chronological age. This improvement in language can be explained due to the potential of neuroplasticity of the brain. Therefore, when continuous and intensive Speech and Language Stimulation is done, chances of acquiring or developing Speech and Language are high.
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Typically, a child should be 100% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners by age 4. At 2 years of age approximately 50% of speech should be clear.
Many children with delay in speaking tends to catch up with peers, but rather than “wait and see” it is a good idea to seek professional advice, particularly if your child is between 18 and 30 months and appears to have problems understanding language, uses very few gestures to communicate and is slow at learning new words.
Speech therapists work with children in four main areas:
- Articulation - When a child is not able to speak clearly or replaces letters.
- Language - When child is not able to respond to others or not speaking as per age.
- Stuttering or fluency.
- Feeding or Swallowing Problems.
If a child is having difficulty chewing/manipulating foods, keeping food in their mouth, taking a long time to chew/swallow, and/or are coughing a lot during meals, then Child needs detailed evaluation.
Spend more time with your child, ask lots of questions with "why" and “who”, having back and forth conversations with your child can help enormously. Also reading books together is great for building language skills.
When children start school they are exposed to lots of new words and instructions , if your child is having difficulties with talking or understanding before they start school, it is likely that they will continue to have difficulties in school too. Child needs therapy before they start school.
If the child is having difficulty bitting chewing and swallowing , is unable to blow , is not able to drink water through straw (sucking), is not able to move tongue or eats selective foods.
Child first needs therapies like OT or ABA, when child stats to interact more then Speech Therapy is more effective.
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