Speech Therapy: What It Is and How It Works
Early intervention is key
Approaches to learning expressive and receptive language
There are two types of language: expressive (what we say) and receptive (what we hear and understand). Speech-language therapy addresses expressive language when treating oral motor disorders, apraxia of speech, dysarthria, and other communication issues. SLPs can also help children with receptive language disorders who speak but don’t comprehend or generalize language.
Wilhelm says, “When we work with kids who have receptive difficulties, we help build vocabulary to aid with listening comprehension and following directions. This also helps them understand what they're reading.”
To learn more about common types of speech therapy such as AAC, PROMPT, OPT, and Beckman Oral Approach, check out our therapy glossary.
The benefits of individual and group therapy
How speech and reading delays are intertwined
The ability to produce speech sounds is the basis of developing an awareness of phonics, reading comprehension, and being able to express clear thoughts about what we’ve read.
Wilhelm puts it this way: if a child is substituting the T sound for the K sound, which is a common issue, they are going to misunderstand the words they’re reading, which means they will misunderstand what a sentence is about, and it compounds from there. Later, in middle school, this can even translate into troubles with math. She explains in this clip:
Differences between clinic- and school-based speech therapy
Stay on top of speech goals in your child’s IEP
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see the same IEP goals roll over year after year, which is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to sit down to the dreaded task of mastering the art of writing standards-based IEP goals.
When it comes to speech therapy, Palmer says that if your child is not making progress on their goals, parents should reach out to their school-based SLP to find out why. “There can be many different reasons for this,” she explains. “Perhaps your child is always going to have some difficulties with a certain sound. Do they have a diagnosis that impacts speech production, or, if your child is older, how do they feel about the way they speak?”
But regardless of the reason, Palmer says that considering a change in approach — such as targeting a different speech sound or transitioning to developing compensatory strategies for misarticulations — is very important. “We want to see progress in our student's IEP goals and when there is not, then something needs to change. As part of the IEP team, parent input is very important.”