What is Children’s Speech Therapy?

Josie Myers

Children's speech therapy attempts to correct certain abnormalities in speaking habits that can be caused by a variety of disorders or outside influences. Children have meetings with a speech therapist to determine if there are other underlying problems, and if therapy could benefit that individual. If it is decided that the child could benefit from it, the child has regular meetings with the therapist to begin establishing new speech patterns. For most children, this therapy is temporary, lasting anywhere from just a few weeks, up to a few years.

Children with lisps or other speech disorders might need speech therapy.
Children with lisps or other speech disorders might need speech therapy.

The goal of a speech therapist it to discover the root causes of abnormalities in speech and to correct them. Sometimes it can be as simple as a family quirk that is passed from an older sibling down and can be corrected with training, but sometimes it is an indicator of a more serious problem. There are two basic types of disorders that warrant children's speech therapy. These are called functional speech disorder, and developmental phonological disorder.

Children with a developmental phonological disorder usually don't read as well as their peers.
Children with a developmental phonological disorder usually don't read as well as their peers.

A functional speech disorder is when the child has a problem pronouncing particular sounds. The most common problem is a "lisp," when the child pronounces the letters "s" and "z" as "th" or a similar substitution. A developmental phonological disorder is a bit more complicated, and tends to become more apparent as the child ages. Children with this disorder are difficult to understand when they speak, and experience delays in reading, spelling, and comprehension, or some combination thereof.

Children's speech therapy is able to help young ones who suffer from speech disorders through a variety of approaches. A qualified speech therapist will be able to meet with a child, and talk with their family, to determine the appropriate course of action. Each session is unique as the severity, cause, and type of disorder is unique to each child.

Sessions for children's speech therapy are often held at schools, or in the therapist's office. The length of the sessions may vary, but is usually about one hour per session. The activities involved during children's speech therapy are designed to work on the child's particular issues. It is common to see flash cards, letter or reading games, and story telling at such sessions. The goal is to expand the child's comprehension and communication skills through basic activities that they enjoy.

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