What is Speech Language Therapy?
Speech-language therapy is a profession that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of disorders and delays that limit a child’s ability to communicate with others and/or participate in safe and age appropriate feeding. Speech-language therapy might be needed when a child’s communication or feeding skills limit his/her ability to function in daily activities. The team of speech-language therapists at Pediatrics Plus specialize in remediating and developing a child’s ability to understand what he/she hears, to let people know what he/she wants, to interact with others, to produce sounds correctly, to speak fluently, and to safely consume age appropriate foods and liquids. We begin this process with a comprehensive evaluation.
A child's ability to successfully communicate in a variety of environments may be negatively impacted due to deficits in any or a combination of the following areas.
Language- A child with a language disorder may have difficulty attaching meaning to auditory information and understanding what is said to him or her (receptive language) or may be late in using words to communicate or have difficulty putting words together to communicate (expressive language).
Pragmatics- A child who has not mastered the rules for social language, known as pragmatics, may have difficulty using language for different purposes, changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, or following rules for conversations and storytelling.
Auditory Processing- A child with an auditory processing disorder will have trouble processing and interpreting auditory information in the absence of a hearing loss. These children may have trouble hearing the differences between similar-sounding speech sounds or understanding speech in noisy environments.
Speech- A child with a speech disorder will have difficulty with the actual production of sound. The most common types of speech disorders include the following:
- Articulation disorders- Articulation disorders occur when a child has trouble producing specific sounds. Sounds may be substituted, left off, added, or changed making it hard for the child to be understood.
- Phonological Delays- Phonological delays occur when a child uses inappropriate patterns in his or her speech to make speech easier to produce.
- Apraxia- Apraxia is a brain-based condition that disrupts the ability to make speech sounds. A child with apraxia will have trouble planning and coordinating the motor movements necessary for speech.
- Dysarthria- A child with dysarthria will exhibit slow, inaccurate, and/or slurred speech due to paralysis, weakness, or generally poor coordination of the muscles of the mouth.
- Fluency- A child with a fluency disorder will have an abnormal amount of involuntary repetitions, hesitations, prolongations, blocks, or disruptions in the natural flow or rhythm of speech. They may also exhibit secondary characteristics which accompany the disfluencies.
- Voice- A child with a voice disorder may have difficulty with phonation or resonance. A child with a phonation disorder may have a harsh, hoarse, or raspy vocal quality or have a voice that is too high or too low for the child’s age or sex. A child with resonance disorder may have speech that sounds “nasal”.
- Oral Motor/Feeding/Swallowing- A child with an oral motor, feeding, and/or swallowing disorder may drool excessively, refuse foods, have trouble eating age appropriate foods, or cough and choke often while eating or drinking.
Children who do not have the prerequisites for speech and language may require training to use an augmentative communication device. At Pediatrics Plus, our Speech Language Pathologist are trained to assist your child in using a variety of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems including but not limited to the following:
- High tech electronic devices
- Low tech systems such as signing
- Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS)
Some children require the use of an Augmentative and Alternative Communication System for a short period of time as speech and language skills are developing. Other children may require the use of an Augmentative and Alternative Communication system for a lifetime.
- Brooke S.
Our speech-language therapists provide a comprehensive evaluation focused on key components of communication including receptive language, expressive language, articulation, pragmatics, voice, fluency, oral-motor, feeding, swallowing, and hearing. Results of standardized assessments provide valuable information regarding communication skills. At Pediatrics Plus, we recognize that standardized tests are only one component of a comprehensive assessment process; therefore, we combine information obtained from standardized assessments with thorough observation, information obtained through play based interaction, and parent’s concerns and goals for their child to develop a personalized speech-language therapy intervention plan to address the child’s individual needs. Our knowledgeable and skilled therapists utilize both play based and clinician directed activities in order to help each child reach his/her greatest potential. In addition, our highly trained therapists will implement each plan with selected interventions that may include, but are not limited to, the following treatment techniques:
- Receptive and expressive language development
- Social language development
- Traditional articulation therapy
- Cycles/Patterns Phonological Intervention
- Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment
- Oral motor strengthening programs
- Beckman Oral Motor Protocol
- Fluency shaping techniques
- Stuttering modification
- Vocal hygiene training
- SOS Approach to Feeding
- iLs – Integrated Listening Systems
- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
At Pediatrics Plus, we strive to educate and train our speech-language therapists in innovative, evidenced-based treatment strategies that will propel your child to achieve his/her greatest potential. Our team of therapists has individuals certified in the above mentioned areas to ensure that your child receives excellence in their therapeutic services.
My child was recommended to have a therapy evaluation. Now what?
Contact Pediatrics Plus and tell us that you need to make a referral for your child to receive therapy. We will take in all pertinent information for your child and then contact your pediatrician’s office for a prescription for the evaluation. We will verify your funding source for eligibility and coverage of therapy evaluations. If you have TEFRA, AR Medicaid, SSI or AR Kids A, therapy evaluations are covered. If your funding is through AR Kids B, insurance, or Early Intervention, a representative from the Pediatrics Plus team will contact you to explain your benefits and provide additional funding options for you if needed. When we have received the prescription and approved funding, the referral manager or a therapist will then contact you to schedule the evaluation.
Why do you contact my insurance company to verify benefits?
Pediatrics Plus is committed to providing the best care for all families, and this includes being sure that your family is not put under financial stress due to receiving therapy for your child. We want all families to be aware of any out-of-pocket costs that may occur before services are rendered. We will do everything possible to provide additional funding options for you if your insurance company does not cover the therapy that your child needs.
My child qualifies for therapy. Now what?
After your therapist performs the evaluation, they have one week to turn the report into our administration office. If your child qualifies for therapy, we will send a copy of the report to you in the mail, as well as to your pediatrician for a prescription for treatment. If you have TEFRA, AR Medicaid, SSI or AR Kids A, recommended therapy sessions are covered. If your child has insurance or Early Intervention, we will then go through the steps to ensure proper funding for therapy services. This may mean several phone calls between you and our office; please remember that the prompt return of calls will ensure that your child’s services are started as soon as possible. After we have approved funding and received a new prescription for treatment, a therapist will contact you to set up the therapy sessions. Please note that the therapist who performed your child’s evaluation may or may not be the same therapist that will provide treatment.
My child qualified for therapy, and it has not started yet. What do I do?
Sometimes it can take up to 3-4 weeks after your child has been evaluated for therapy sessions to begin. The best way to keep this process moving is to stay in contact with our office. We are always happy to address any concerns or answer any questions that you may have.
How often will my child receive therapy?
The amount of therapy that your child will receive is based on your child’s specific needs that are determined by the evaluating therapist. The therapist will include recommendations for therapy in your child’s report; this report will also include specific goals that your child will be working towards during therapy sessions.
My child did not qualify for therapy but was recommended to be re-evaluated. What do I do?
If a child does not qualify for therapy services at the time of the initial evaluation, the therapist may recommend the child return in 3-9 months to be re-evaluated. If your child receives these recommendations and your pediatrician is in agreement, we will contact you at the recommended re-evaluation date to see if you feel that the re-evaluation is necessary. In order for us to perform the re-evaluation, we will have to request a new prescription from your pediatrician’s office. However, if at any time you feel that your child needs to be re-evaluated, please contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.