Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)
An SLP works on developing a child's understanding of and ability to express language. In addition, this person helps if a child has problems with saying particular sounds. SLPs also assist those who stutter, have voice disorders, or have auditory processing (listening) difficulties. The SLPs perform hearing screenings under the guidance of the school audiologist and make appropriate referrals. In addition, SLPs work with students who use alternative forms of communication because they cannot talk or have unintelligible speech.
Areas We Address (from ASHA's Public Information):
CHILDHOOD APRAXIA: Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it hard to speak. It can take a lot of work to learn to say sounds and words better. In order for speech to occur, messages need to go from your brain to your mouth. These messages tell the muscles how and when to move to make sounds. When a child has apraxia of speech, the messages do not get through correctly. The child might not be able to move their lips or tongue in the right ways, even though their muscles are not weak. Sometimes, the child might not be able to say much at all. A child with CAS knows what they want to say. The problem is not how the child thinks but how the brain tells the mouth muscles to move.
SPEECH DISORDERS: Children may say some sounds the wrong way as they learn to talk. They learn some sounds earlier, like p, m, or w. Other sounds take longer to learn, like z, v, or th. Most children can say almost all speech sounds correctly by 4 years old. A child who does not say sounds by the expected ages may have a speech sound disorder. You may hear the terms "articulation disorder" and "phonological disorder" to describe speech sound disorders like this. It is normal for young children to say the wrong sounds sometimes. For example, your child may make a "w" sound for an "r" and say "wabbit" for "rabbit." She may leave sounds out of words, such as "nana" for "banana." This is okay when she is young. It may be a problem if she keeps making these mistakes as she gets older. You and your child may also sound different because you have an accent or dialect. This is not a speech sound disorder.
STUTTERING: We all have times when we do not speak smoothly. We may add "uh" or "you know" to what we say. Or, we may say a sound or word more than once. These disfluencies are normal if they happen every once in a while. When it happens a lot, it may be stuttering. Stuttering can change from day to day. You may have times when you are fluent and times when you stutter more. Stress or excitement can lead to more stuttering. Stuttering is more than just the blocks or repetitions in your speech. It can also make you tense your body or struggle to talk. Stuttering may get in the way of how you talk to others. You may want to hide your stuttering. So, you may avoid certain words or refuse to talk in some situations. For example, you may not want to talk on the phone if that makes you stutter more.
LANGUAGE DISORDER: Children all learn language in the same way, but not always at the same time. Some children talk early and understand everything you say. Others do not talk much or have trouble listening. Children can have speech or language problems before they start school.
Some children have problems understanding, called receptive language. They may have trouble:
- Understanding what people mean when they use gestures, like shrugging or nodding
- Following directions
- Answering questions
- Pointing to objects and pictures
- Knowing how to take turns when talking with others
Some children have problems talking, called expressive language. They may have trouble:
- Asking questions
- Naming objects
- Using gestures
- Putting words together into sentences
- Learning songs and rhymes
- Using correct pronouns, like "he" or "they"
- Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going
- Changing how they talk to different people and in different places. For example, you speak differently to an adult than a young child. You can talk louder outside than inside.
SELECTIVE MUTISM: Does your child talk at home or with friends but refuse to talk at school? A child with selective mutism will talk at some times and in some places, but not in others. This might start when your child goes to school. Sometimes, it starts when a child is younger.
AUTISM: Every person with autism is different. All will have problems with communication and social skills but not in the same way. Autism is a spectrum disorder because it can cause mild problems, severe problems, or something in between. People with autism may focus on one topic, like trains or a television show. They may have some behaviors that they do over and over, like flipping objects or smelling things. They may not like changes in their schedule or changes in the food they eat. Some may talk well but not be able to make friends. Others may not talk at all.
AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION: AAC includes all of the ways we share our ideas and feelings without talking. We all use forms of AAC every day. You use AAC when you use facial expressions or gestures instead of talking. You use AAC when you write a note and pass it to a friend or coworker. We may not realize how often we communicate without talking. People with severe speech or language problems may need AAC to help them communicate. Some may use it all of the time. Others may say some words but use AAC for longer sentences or with people they don’t know well. AAC can help in school, at work, and when talking with friends and family.