What Exactly is Speech Therapy, and Why Does My Child Need it?
Updated: Nov 9, 2021
You’ve been contacted by the school, asking permission for your child to be evaluated by the Speech Therapist—and you’ve got questions.
Maybe you’ve heard of Speech Therapy before, but only in passing. Now that it’s impacting your child, you want to learn everything there is to know about the topic.
First of all—thanks for being a great parent who supports their child! We therapists know that parental involvement is SO important to achieve the best outcomes for your child. We love involving parents in all aspects of therapy, whenever possible.
Secondly—we promise you’re not the first person to be uncertain about what Speech Therapists actually do! In fact, it’s a common complaint amongst us Speech Therapists that our profession isn’t particularly well-named.
We like to joke that it’s because all the things we actually do just won’t fit on a nametag.
As Speech Therapists, we’re very accustomed to explaining what we have to offer. After all—we LOVE what we do...even though what we’re called could use some work.
If you’re interested in learning more about Speech Therapy and what Speech Therapists actually do, then this article’s for you!
Let’s take a deep dive into all things ST.
What’s the difference between a speech therapist and a speech pathologist?
First thing’s first—let’s tackle the name issue.
What’s in a name, anyway? Well, for us “Speechies” (as we sometimes jokingly refer to ourselves), our commonly-used title leaves a lot to be desired because it covers very little of what we actually do.
While we’re used to being called Speech Therapists, our *actual* title is: Speech-Language Pathologists (or Speech and Language Pathologists). It’s kind of a mouthful, we know.
So, when you hear folks refer to Speech Therapists vs. Speech Pathologists—they’re both us! These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to us Speech-Language Pathologists, or SLPs as we’re also known.
As far as we’re concerned—call us what you like. Just make sure you call us if your child needs our services!
What does a speech therapist do?
As we already mentioned, SLPs have a big scope of practice. This means we’re qualified to assess and treat a wide variety of issues related to speech, language, communication, voice, cognition, and even swallowing! (I know, right?!)
Some of the common issues school-based SLPs are trained to address include—
Communication issues (such as being appropriate in social situations)
Receptive language issues (understanding language)
Expressive language issues (using language)
Reading and writing issues (including dyslexia)
Let’s dig a little deeper into how SLPs help children in each of these areas. We may as well start with the most obvious—SLPs provide therapy for speech issues in children.
When a child experiences difficulty with pronouncing the sounds and sound combinations of our spoken language, we call this an articulation disorder.
Some children struggle with dysfluency in their spoken language, which is commonly referred to as stuttering. Experiencing periods of dysfluency is a normal part of development and language learning—most kids go through a stuttering phase and will outgrow it without intervention. But, if the issue persists, worsens, or seriously affects a child’s ability to be understood, we can provide treatment to help.
We assess and help students overcome their issues with articulation and fluency by creating and providing individualized speech therapy services. We provided intervention during the school day, which may take place individually or in a group. Sometimes, therapy is delivered in a dedicated office setting, sometimes right in the classroom. We also work to involve parents in articulation therapy, as home carryover is really important in helping your child master new skills and help them stick.
Here at The Loop, we offer quality, evidence-based speech and fluency therapy services.
SLPs also help students overcome issues with communication skills. Think of communication as a big umbrella, under which fits speech and language skills.
Communication is bigger than language—it also encompasses things like body language, tone of voice, and word choice.
Children on the autism spectrum often experience difficulty with their communication skills, which can impact their ability to effectively navigate social situations. Children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech also have difficulty being understood in their communication, which can impact not only their school life, but their life as a whole.
We can help students with communication issues thrive with targeted therapy to help them better understand, be understood, and interact in a variety of situations.
Receptive and Expressive Language Therapy
Language is a two-way street. It includes both our ability to produce and understand spoken language.
Our receptive language skills are what we use to understand what is said to us. Whereas, our expressive language skills are our ability to use language to express ourselves.
SLPs are qualified to address issues students have in both their expressive and receptive language skills. Sometimes, the kids we treat experience issues with both.
We target language skills in a variety of ways. Kids often have a lot of fun in our language therapy sessions! You can learn more about our language therapy services here.
Reading and Writing Therapy
Literacy skills are crucial to be a fully functioning member of our society. SLPs work on emergent literacy skills in young school-aged children, to make sure they have the ideal foundation to build upon. We also target literacy skills in older students, who may be struggling when the focus shifts (around 3rd grade) from learning to read to reading to learn.
When we target reading and writing skills, SLPs have many tools in our toolbox to assess and help students succeed. Depending on where the underlying issues are, we can focus our therapy on building skills in—
Phonological awareness—we help kids to recognize the sounds that make up words. Rhyming is a skill that falls under phonological awareness. Ever sung the song, BINGO? This involves phonological awareness skills.
Letter-Sound Correspondence—we help kids understand that the sounds in our spoken language can be mapped onto symbols in our written language. We call these symbols letters. We combine them to form words.
Decoding—we can help kids “crack the code” of written language, using strategies to recognize whole words and improve their speed and accuracy when reading text.
Vocabulary building—word knowledge is an important skill in emergent literacy. We can help to foster a robust vocabulary in the students we work with.
Comprehension—once the shift happens from learning to read to reading to learn, we support students in understanding the meaning of what they read. We help them learn to use reading as a way to gain information and knowledge.
School-based SLPs also administer standardized testing, which we use to identify students who may be struggling in the areas we’re trained to treat. You can read our recent blog post for a deeper understanding of how and why SLPs use standardized assessments in the school setting.
What qualifies a child for speech therapy?
Students may be referred to us by their teacher, parents, or other qualified educational professionals. Children are referred to SLPs when there are concerns about potential issues in their speech, language, or communication skills that may have a negative impact on their learning.
Here at The Loop, our exclusive model allows us to partner directly with your child’s school to provide customized, collaborative support, right in the school setting.
If your child is being considered for speech and language services, we’ll start by having an initial meeting with you, where we can begin team building and share information and thoughts about moving forward. If you agree to an assessment, we will schedule a time to evaluate your child. You can check out this recent blog post to learn more about standardized tests used by SLPs, and why they’re important.
Following our assessment, we’ll schedule a team meeting where we’ll come together to share our results and discuss next steps. If our evaluation determines your child is eligible for and stands to benefit from our SLP services, we’ll create a remediation plan and begin delivering therapy. Our treatment plan will be customized to your child's unique needs and goals.
We welcome parental involvement in all aspects of our treatment. We’ll share information with you, answer your questions, and support you in providing home carryover for the skills we’re addressing in therapy. Parental involvement is often a crucial component of success, so you’re always welcome to partner with us!
In the school system, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is created for any student in public schools determined eligible for therapy services. This legal document provides a written plan for any special education services a student will receive, as well as outlining student-specific educational goals. While an IEP is not needed to provide services in a private school setting, The Loop is able to help you and your school apply for an IEP if necessary. Either way, our model ensures that everyone on your child’s team is on the same page when it comes to how, why, and in what way their educational services plan will unfold.
Does my child need speech therapy?
If your child is experiencing issues in their speech, language, or communication skills that are impacting their learning experience, we’re here to help!
Unfortunately, some people hold a stigma about therapy services. We school-based SLPs feel the opposite. We know early assessment and intervention are the key to achieving the best outcomes in the children we serve. If we can identify a student who’s struggling with their learning skills, early treatment can make all the difference! We’ve read the research and seen the results firsthand.
After being assessed, your child may receive a diagnosis. We understand and empathize that this can be difficult for parents to hear. But a diagnosis means more than just a label we stick on your child. A diagnosis can help your child automatically qualify for necessary services to help support their learning. And getting the services and support they need is a good thing!
We SLPs uphold the tenets of person-centered care—which are to always put a person first, instead of their diagnosis. When we work with your child, we will always see them, in all their colorful complexity, without reducing them to a label. Diagnoses can be helpful for children who need extra services in the school system or through your insurance—but we know this label is not the entire story of your child.
We are here to help and support you, as well as your child. Our goal is to guide them to be the best student they can be, by reducing or removing any stumbling blocks on their path to success. Our sessions are fun, engaging, and tailored to each student’s unique personality and needs. We love what we do, and are always excited to share what we have to offer.
Here at The Loop, we love talking all things SLP! If you have questions about how and if your child can benefit from our speech and language therapy services, reach out and let us know!
Pssst, did you know—in addition to our awesome SLPs, we offer an array of specialized learning support services, including—Occupational Therapy, executive function support, and learning remediation? It's true! We’ve got everything your child needs to succeed!
Catch us at theloopsll.com, friend us on social @TheLoopSLL, or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.