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A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.


Speech Disorders and Language Disorders


A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.


When Is Therapy Needed?


Kids might need speech-language therapy for a variety of reasons, including:

  • hearing impairments
  • cognitive (intellectual, thinking) or other developmental delays
  • weak oral muscles
  • excessive drooling
  • chronic hoarseness
  • birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate
  • autism
  • motor planning problems
  • respiratory problems (breathing disorders)
  • feeding and swallowing disorders
  • traumatic brain injury


Remediation


In speech-language therapy, an SLP will work with a child one-on-one, in a small group, or directly in a classroom to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder.
Therapists use a variety of strategies, including:
Language intervention activities: The SLP will interact with a child by playing and talking, using pictures, books, objects, or ongoing events to stimulate language development. The therapist may also model correct pronunciation and use repetition exercises to build speech and language skills.
Articulation therapy: Articulation, or sound production, exercises involve having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables for a child, often during play activities. The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child’s specific needs. The SLP will physically show the child how to make certain sounds, such as the “r” sound, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds.
Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: The SLP will use a variety of oral exercises — including facial massage and various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises — to strengthen the muscles of the mouth. The SLP also may work with different food textures and temperatures to increase a child’s oral awareness during eating and swallowing.