What is Speech Therapy?

“Speech Therapy” helps people with speech and language problems to speak more clearly. Speech therapy can also involve specialized interventions to assist people understand and comprehend what is being said to them though activities to promote auditory processing.

Speech skills are closely related to feeding skills as they use the same muscles and coordination of the oral cavity. Speech Therapy may also include oral motor activities that may affect that child’s ability to eat, drink and swallow. Poor speech skills which also impact feeding skills can thus impact the overall nutrition of a child.

Pediatric Speech Therapy often uses “play” and engaging “fun” activities that help a child improve their vocabulary, articulation, and comprehension of words spoken to them.

Pediatric Speech Therapy focuses on helping your child reach their developmental milestones for both Receptive and Expressive Language. Speech Therapy can address a child’s Sound and Voice Production, Phonological Awareness, Literacy, Social-Emotional, Cognitive, and Pragmatic skills.

What are communication skills?


Communication is the ability to express to another your thoughts and feelings, and have your thoughts and feelings understood. While speech is often thought of as the primary means to communicate, speech is just one part of communication. Communication also includes eye contact, body language, gestures and tone of voice. The ability to read and write is also a form of communication skills and can be addressed by a speech or occupational therapist.

Your child’s ability to communicate effectively is imperative to their ability to interact with other children, adults and most importantly YOU, their parent. Interaction with others has a direct effect on your child’s self-esteem, play skills, and trust in their environment.

What are speech skills?


Speech Skills involve our ability to verbally communicate our wants and needs to others. In order to communicate vocally, we need say the correct words, with the correct sounds.
Speech skills are very important to a child’s overall development, health, learning experiences, and self-esteem. Developing independence with speech skills at an early age is crucial to school performance and social interaction. Speech skills allow a child to express their basic wants and needs. Skills necessary for eating are important for nutrition and overall health.
Our speech skills are very closely related to our feeding skills because the same muscles are used for both. The use of the muscles that are used to produce speech as well as eat, are known as “Oral Motor” skills. Oral motor skills begin to develop even before a baby is born. Ever see a fetus sucking their thumb? These skills are what is required to breast or bottle feed effectively. If your child had trouble with early feeding, they may be at risk for continued feeding or speech delays. Oral motor skills continue to develop quickly throughout our growing years. Proper development of speech skills requires strength, coordination, postural control, attention, and cognition. It also requires appropriate function of our sensory system.

What are comprehension skills?


Comprehension is often referred to as “Receptive Language Skills”. Receptive Language is the ability to understand what is being said to us. In order to effectively communicate, we also need to understand what others are saying. Receptive language is affected by a person’s ability to hear or process auditory stimulus. If poor comprehension is due to a processing disorder, some sensory integration techniques can help with auditory processing. Comprehension skills also include the ability to understand symbols, such as pictures, letters, and written words, with which Occupational or Speech Therapy can help.

What are Feeding Skills? How can a Speech Therapist help? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATON:
What are cognitive skills? How can a Speech Therapist help? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMAITON:
What are Social Emotional skills? How can a Speech Therapist help? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION:
What is sensory processing? How can a Speech Therapist help? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Activities you can do with your child now at home:

Get down to your child’s level and make eye contact when speaking or listening to them.
Use simple one to two-word sentences.
Give simple one to two step directions
Give your child choices (Do you want water or milk?)
Allow your child extra time to process what they want to say, or what you just said before repeating yourself. This may mean you counting silently to 30.
Always project love and acceptance even when your child is struggling.
Encourage “Use your words”, and then patiently and lovingly wait.
Ask your child simple Who, What, Where questions.
Read, sing, and talk to your child throughout the day.
Make bedtime story time enjoyable. Ask them to point to pictures in a book.

Speech skills checklist

Take a look at the speech skills checklist.  If your child is not meeting their milestones, give us a call.

0 - 6 months

• Searches for speaker
• Recognizes own name
• Babbles
• Vocalizes feelings through intonation
• Frequently puts fingers, objects, clothing, pacifier into mouth for sucking and mouthing
• Breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding
• Starting soft, smooth solid foods
• Cooing, vowel-like sounds

7 - 9 months

• Self-feeds simple, finger foods
• Babbles same sounds repeatedly (baba or mama)
• Produces sounds which are similar to t,d,n,f,v,z,ch,j,th,sh and s
• Makes sound while eating with food in mouth
• Reaches for object and looks for caregiver’s reaction
• Tolerates smooth, lumpy solids fed by spoon by 9 months

10 - 12 months

• Clears food off spoon with upper lip (eats lumpy, mashed foods)
• Feeding self with fingers
• Babbles using different sounds (nama)
• Takes turns vocalizing
• Will imitate others’ vocalizations or gestures
• Points/gestures and vocalizes
• Participates in joint attention activities

18 months

• Uses 10-20 words including names
• Combines 2 words (all done, Daddy bye-bye)
• Names at least 5 common items
• Responds to “yes/no” questions
• Follows simple, one-step commands
• Points to body parts on self when names
• Retrieves objects from another room when asked
• Understands at least 50 words
• Asks for “more” and “what’s that?”
• Drinks liquids from an open cup independently with limited spillage
• Swallows with lip closure
• Has precise up and down tongue movement
• Eats table foods (includes easily chewed meats and cooked vegetables)

24 months

• Has at least 100 words in vocabulary
• Frequently uses 2-word phrases
• Uses some 3-word phrases
• Is at least 25-50% intelligible to all listeners
• Follows simple 2-step related commands (may still require gestural cues)
• Drinks from an open cup and from straw without dribbling
• Bites through a variety of food thicknesses
• Demonstrates verbal turn-taking

30 months

• Has approximately 450 words in vocabulary
• Gives own first name
• Answers “where” questions
• Uses present progressive -ing
• Uses “no” or “not”
• Consistently uses 3-4 word phrases/sentences
• Identifies simple objects by function
• Is 50-75% intelligible
• Shares toys and understands simple locations (in, under, out, off)
• Responds to greetings
• Uses pronouns (my, me, mine, you)

36 months

• Is 75% intelligible to all listeners
• Converses in sentences
• Has 1000 words in vocabulary
• Follows prepositional commands (on, next to, under, etc.)
• Follows simple 3- step related commands
• Begins to use adjectives for color and size
• Asks one-word “why” questions
• Uses “what”, “where”, “how”, and “whose” when asking questions
• Uses “in” and “on” when asked “where” questions
• Beings to understand time concepts such as soon, later, wait
• Chews and swallows majority of adult food

42 months

• Uses regular plural –s (socks, shoes)
• Uses possessive –s (baby’s bottle)

48 months

• Consistently uses 4-5-word sentences, with correct sentence structure
• Is 80% intelligible
• Verbally relates a personal experience/story
• Asks many questions including “who?” and “why?”
• Uses regular and irregular past tense verbs consistently and regular 3rd person
• Uses most pronouns
• Has 1500+ words in vocabulary
• Follows simple multi-step directions without repetition
• Uses contractions (can’t, don’t, I’ve)
• Identifies colors

60 months

• Uses a variety of sentences with 6 or more words
• Has greater than 2000 words in vocabulary
• Uses most speech sounds correctly
• Is 90-100% intelligible
• Answers “how are things the same or different”
• Can carry a plot when telling a story
• Understands time concepts (yesterday, today, first, then, next)
• Asks question to get more information
• Inventive spelling when writing