Our previous post provided a general guideline for finding a speech therapist. In this post, we will discuss the types and techniques of pediatric speech therapy.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is pediatric speech therapy?
- 2 Types of Pediatric Speech Therapy
- 3 Conclusion
What is pediatric speech therapy?
Pediatric speech therapy is a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on evaluating, diagnosing, and treating speech, language, communication, and feeding disorders in children from birth to adolescence. A pediatric speech therapist works with children who have a wide range of speech and language disorders, including difficulties with articulation, fluency, voice, comprehension, and expression.
The therapist may use a variety of techniques and interventions to help children develop better communication skills, including play-based activities, exercises, and assistive technologies. The ultimate goal of pediatric speech therapy is to improve a child’s ability to communicate effectively and interact with others, which can significantly impact their overall quality of life.
Differences against adult speech therapy
Unlike Pediatric speech therapy, adult speech therapy focuses on improving communication skills in individuals who have acquired communication disorders later in life due to neurological damage, injury, or illness, such as aphasia, dysarthria, and apraxia.
Therapeutic approaches in pediatric speech therapy may involve play-based therapy, family involvement, and parent education. In contrast, adult speech therapy often involves cognitive exercises and compensatory strategies to improve communication.
Similarities with toddler speech therapy
Pediatric speech therapy is a broad term that encompasses speech therapy for children of all ages, from infancy to adolescence. On the other hand, Toddler speech therapy refers specifically to speech therapy for children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old.
While there is some overlap between pediatric speech therapy and toddler speech therapy, the focus and techniques used in therapy sessions may vary depending on the child’s age and developmental stage. For example, toddlers may need more play-based and interactive therapy sessions to keep their attention and engagement. At the same time, older children may be able to participate in more structured and goal-oriented therapy sessions.
Types of Pediatric Speech Therapy
There are several types of pediatric speech therapy, including:
Articulation Speech therapy
Articulation therapy is a type of pediatric speech therapy that focuses on improving a child’s ability to produce clear and accurate speech sounds. During articulation therapy, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) will work with the child to target specific speech sounds that they struggle with.
The therapist will demonstrate how to correctly produce the sound and guide the child through exercises to practice making the sound in different words and sentences. The activities are designed to be engaging and age-appropriate, often incorporating play and interactive games to keep the child motivated and focused.
For example, a child struggling with the “r” sound might practice making the sound while pretending to be a pirate searching for treasure. By helping children develop clearer speech, articulation therapy can improve their communication skills and boost their self-confidence.
Language Speech Therapy
Pediatric speech therapy includes various types of interventions, and one of the primary types is language therapy. In language therapy, the SLP will work with the child to improve their ability to communicate effectively through spoken language. This involves a range of activities, including play-based interventions, picture-based interventions, and object-based interventions. The SLP may use books or ongoing events to help the child develop their language skills.
During language therapy, the SLP will interact with the child by talking and playing with them. They may use pictures or objects to stimulate the child’s language development and model correct vocabulary and grammar. The SLP may also use repetition exercises to help the child build their language skills. The goals of language therapy are to improve the child’s ability to understand and use language, as well as to enhance their overall communication skills.
Fluency or Stuttering Speech Therapy
According to research studies, the most effective therapy for children who stutter is response contingency therapy. This therapy involves rewarding children for producing fluent speech and ignoring instances of stuttering. Other effective therapies for stuttering include EMG therapy, which uses computer monitoring to provide feedback on speech, gradual increase in length and complexity of utterance therapy, which starts with fluently saying one word and gradually builds up to five minutes of conversation; and stuttering modification therapy, which involves traditional methods such as pull-outs.
Prolonged or smooth speech therapy is another effective stuttering therapy. It involves slowing down speech and easing into all speech sounds to prevent stuttering. Regulated breathing therapy, which teaches children about the respiratory system and how to breathe in a steady, controlled manner, can also be effective in improving speech fluency.
Voice speech therapy
Voice therapy is often recommended as the first treatment for children with chronic hoarseness caused by vocal cord lesions or nodules. It can also be used after surgery to remove lesions or to treat vocal cord paralysis caused by damaged nerves in the larynx. At Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, speech pathologists specializing in voice disorders work with children as young as two years old to provide exercises aimed at improving vocal patterns and reducing the risk of further vocal cord injury.
For preschool-aged children, therapists can create a home-based program that increases a child’s awareness of how to make sounds and expands their repertoire of sounds. This involves using character voices and daily activities with parents encouraged to participate. For older children, therapy consists in exploring ways of using the voice to relax the muscles and produce smooth sounds, followed by exercises for routine practice.
AAC speech therapy
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to the use of various objects, symbols, charts, photographs, signing, and electronic aids to help children and young people communicate when they have difficulties with spoken or written language. AAC can be used for several reasons, such as to help a child communicate while their language skills develop, supplement their verbal skills, give them an alternative means of communication, or help build their language skills. Different types of AAC include eye-pointing frames, communication books or charts, electronic communication aids, sign language, switches, PODD books, and Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS).
Children with various communication difficulties can benefit from different types of AAC, and not all children require electronic devices. Many can benefit from signing, symbols, and communication books, while others may need more sophisticated technology. AAC can give children a voice and help them have more control over their environment, making it an essential tool for those who need it.
Feeding therapy is a therapy that helps children who have difficulties eating. These difficulties may include difficulty chewing or swallowing food, refusing certain food textures, being irritable or congested during feeding, or having a negative mealtime behavior. Feeding therapists work with children to develop specific therapies to make the entire process of eating easier and more enjoyable.
Caregivers play an essential role in feeding therapy by learning feeding strategies and tactics for addressing negative mealtime behaviors and how to encourage the child to eat new foods introduced during therapy at home. The most common skills taught in feeding therapy include oral skills, food orientation, and improving the overall eating experience.
Pediatric speech therapy is a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on evaluating, diagnosing, and treating speech, language, communication, and feeding disorders in children from birth to adolescence. It differs from adult speech therapy, which focuses on acquired communication disorders later in life due to neurological damage, injury, or illness.
Pediatric speech therapy aims to improve a child’s ability to communicate effectively and interact with others using techniques and interventions such as play-based activities, exercises, and assistive technologies. Different types of pediatric speech therapy include articulation, language, fluency or stuttering, voice, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) therapy. The choice of therapy depends on the child’s specific needs and age.
Written by: Sittie Ashia Said
Edited and Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Juhairah Magarang-Said