Speech Language Pathology is the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of communication related disorders. Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are certified and highly trained to provide a range of clinical assessment and therapy services to individuals with communication challenges.
Individuals with a wide variety of communication challenges can benefit from speech language pathology services, including those with sound or language disorders, learning disabilities, hearing impairments, pragmatic difficulties, and cognitive impairments.
Early detection and intervention is important and help should be sought as soon as you become concerned. If you aren’t sure, don’t delay at discussing this with your pediatrician or with us at Acorn & Oak. Speech development is critical between one and three years of age. We are available to answer any questions you have so you don’t have to worry.
Bilingualism does not cause a speech delay. If a child has a speech delay it will usually occur in both languages. If your bilingual child needs treatment it could be of benefit to have a speech therapist that is fluent in both the languages if that is available.
Yes, you should have your child evaluated if any of the following apply:
- Your child is not producing speech sounds that he/she should be able to produce at his/her age.
- Your child’s pediatrician, teacher, babysitter, or another less-familiar person has expressed that he/she is having difficulty understanding your child’s speech.
- You, another family member, or another more-familiar person has expressed that he/she is having difficulty understanding your child’s speech.
- You can understand what your child says, but others cannot.
During our free phone consultation the speech pathologist will ask you questions to informally understand if speech and language is developing normally or if further testing is required.
Choosing the right speech pathologist is one of the first and most important decisions you will make. Many factors may influence your decision. Consider the following factors when determining therapist fit.
Is the clinician licensed in your state and do they hold a certification of clinical competence?
EXPERTISE AND EFFECTIVENESS
Has the clinician worked with similar clients, and do they demonstrate a commitment to using evidence-based treatment methods based on research.
Does your child or loved one respond to the clinician and seem comfortable interacting? Is everyone having fun?
Does the clinician recognize that the parent or caregiver is the best intervention partner? Do they respect and include parents in discovery and decision making? Do they follow a team-based approach with others who provide support and services to your child or loved one?
Can they be available at the most effective times, whether you need a premium after school spot, or an early morning session for an adult or younger child?
Does the therapist have a convenient location that pleasant, enjoyable and conducive to treatment, and easy to get to? Will they treat at home or after school locations, or via tele-practice if you prefer it?
The many settings for speech-language therapy sessions include school, private clinic, private home based, children’s hospital, and university. There are pros and cons for each setting.
School based therapy is limited to eligible children which comes at no cost, and therapy happens during school hours which is convenient. However school caseloads are heavy, individual one on one sessions are rare, specific therapist expertise is unlikely, and scheduling conflicts with academics can result in other consequences. Additionally, wait times for services can be high.
Home therapy is more flexible and happens one on one in a way that is flexible to your schedule. However the home can be distracting, and materials and resources are limited to what the therapist can bring with them.
Clinic based therapy maintains schedule flexibility, more materials and resources, and individualized attention. In addition there are limited distractions and things are setup to be fun and productive. However in large clinics you might find continuity of therapists to be a challenge, and you’ll need to drive to the clinic.
Hospital based therapy enables access to amazing resources and state of the art diagnostics as well as specialists and coordinated therapist teams that may be especially important for complex cases. However top hospitals have long waiting lists, with high competition for prime scheduling slots, and long drives to get to therapy. Additionally, continuity of care may be limited, and it’s an option that may be far too expensive to choose without insurance coverage.
University based therapy often has a lower cost because sessions are conducted by supervised students. Access to the latest tools and equipment are another benefit. However even though students are supervised, they are not yet licensed clinicians, so they have limited experience. Additionally the therapists rotate by semester which limits rapport building, between the child and therapist as well as between the therapist and the rest of the team (pediatrician, teacher, ot, pt, etc)
Early on, you will probably want to ask about eligibility for services. Much of the direct testing will involve answering a certain number of questions incorrectly before discontinuing the assessment. Because of this, parents and caregivers sometimes feel their child or family member did worse than they really did.
Starting with the results of testing helps you understand next steps. If your child or family member is not eligible, your speech pathologist may recommend some things you can work on at home.
If your child or family member is eligible, ask your speech pathologist to explain the eligibility criteria they used. Your speech pathologist may use various data points, for example a percent delay, or standard scores or percentiles depending on the assessments conducted.
Regardless of the criteria, the one common aspect is that it is always compared to norms, which in children, for example, would be based on age.
After understanding the test results you’ll likely want to know how long and how often therapy will be administered. While you might think more is better, that’s not always the case.
It’s always ok to ask your speech pathologist to explain the reasoning for how often and how long they recommend therapy.
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