What exactly does a speech therapist do? In a nutshell;
- Speech therapists aim to assess, diagnose, treat, and even prevent language, speech, communication (social and cognitive), feeding, and swallowing disorders in both children and adults.
- Qualifications to be a speech therapist include a state license to practice and no less than a Master’s degree.
- Speech therapists often work directly with children and parents to help integrate treatment methods/progress into everyday life at home.
Speech therapy might seem like it’s solely for those with articulation difficulties (due to lisps or stuttering etc), but it actually aims to alleviate a number of speech and communication problems. This includes both written and spoken forms of communication (e.g. auditory processing disorder, dyspraxia, and dyslexia). The terms speech language pathologist and speech therapist can be used interchangeably.
An SLP will first establish the particular language/communication difficulties that their client is experiencing. They will then attempt to identify any underlying cause (like developmental disorder) before finally deciding on the most effective treatment path. Often times, however, parents may receive a diagnosis from a doctor with a referral to a speech therapist. SLPs enable children to improve upon and hone their skills through the use of evidence-based treatment methods.
SLPs Treat Problems Such as:
- Fluency: Stuttering and difficulty in speech flow
- Oral feeding difficulties: Problems with drooling, eating, and swallowing
- Articulation complications: Making mistakes in sounds and unclear speech
- Voice or resonance issues: Difficulties around quality, volume, and voice pitch
SLPs Provide Relief for:
- Pragmatic language barriers: Difficulty in utilizing socially appropriate language
- Receptive language impairments: Difficulty in grasping or receiving language
- Expressive language difficulties: Difficulty expressing language through speech
SLPs implore treatment techniques based on a child’s specific difficulties, and these methods might encompass:
- Swallowing & feeding therapy: Lessons revolve around strengthening mouth muscles and might include lip, tongue, and jaw workouts (and sometimes even facial massage).
- Phonology & Articulation therapy: The SLP focuses on the particular sound/s that are presenting challenges. The lesson might encompass tongue movements (and other mouth formations) to help demonstrate and practice phonology.
- Language intervention activities: These activities can help children through the use of feedback and modeling. The SLP could introduce books, play-based/pictorial techniques, or even use practice language drills.
Academic qualifications (i.e. at least a masters in speech-language pathology) is not the sole criterion to look for in a speech therapist. You should also take into consideration ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) membership, as it is indicative of having passed the national certification exam.
Licensing qualifications are different in some areas of California, such as Los Angeles. Speech therapy is a significant and necessary part of growing and development for many children and families. It is meant to be carried out by highly qualified and experienced professionals. Melissa Peters, Speech Language Pathologist (M.S.) is qualified and experienced, particularly with speech and feeding therapy for adolescents. Client ages can range from 1 month up to 18 years.
Advantages of Speech Therapy
With speech therapy, your child can build self-confidence through improved communication skills. In the end, they stand to benefit on academic, emotional, and social fronts. Treatment methods can even help to improve reading comprehension skills. Children with complications like dyslexia can learn how to break down the sounds that make up each word they are reading, improving efficiency and understanding.
The earlier speech therapy is started, the better. Studies have supported this in young children experiencing communication and language barriers. Adolescents who begin therapy at a younger age tend to have more positive outcomes later in life. If you think your child is struggling with language production or comprehension, then it is paramount to seek the advice of a professional who can guide you towards the correct treatment resources.
Depending on your child’s specific needs, the duration of therapy can be anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, with improvement attained slowly but surely. Speech therapy will not have the same outcome for every child. Your therapist should, however, be able to assess your child’s individual needs and curtail treatment specifically for them.
Your therapist will offer you and your child techniques to cope with challenges more effectively. Most likely, he or she will prescribe a set of practice activities to be done at home. This is done with the aim of improving the communication skills that are being worked on in therapy. For more success, both the parents and children should be committed to treatment progress. This can also involve other family, friends, and teachers.
Your child and the therapist must be compatible. An SLP with years of experience is the obvious ideal choice, but some children tend to interact better with younger adults. The choice should ultimately boil down to you and your child’s comfort levels as well as progression with therapy. You should have little to no trouble finding many SLPs in Los Angeles. Speech Therapy is a growing field, and more people are understanding the importance of early intervention with continued treatment.
Points to Remember:
- Speech therapy is an ongoing process that requires patience with treatment (spanning months or even years).
- Finding an SLP who has experience with your child’s specific needs can be beneficial.
- You should be hands-on with the chosen treatment methods, utilizing them at home when applicable.
Los Angeles Speech Therapy: In Conclusion
It can be difficult to choose from the many options available in Los Angeles. Speech Therapy is a very beneficial treatment for children with varying disorders, but choosing the wrong therapist can present setbacks. Make sure you do your research and make it thorough. And always remember, the most important aspect of your child’s treatment will be your unconditional love, support, and encouragement.