Speech Therapy for Children

Who are we?

What do we do?

How can we help your child?

When should our family seek help?

How do we do speech therapy?

Why would we need speech therapy? Don’t kids just grow out of these problems?

How long does it take?

Will insurance cover speech therapy?

 

Who are we?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), also called speech therapists, are trained in 2+ year clinical master’s degree programs, followed by a supervised clinical fellowship year. This qualifies SLPs for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). The CCC designation is the gold standard and recognized throughout much of the world.

Find out more at the ASHA website.

http://www.asha.org/

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What do we do?

Our speech therapists work with children from birth to 18 to help them with speech, language, social communication, reading, feeding and swallowing, voice, and cognition. We work with children who have a wide range of diagnoses including hearing loss, cerebral palsy, autism, or other developmental delays. We often work with children who have delayed speech and language (late talkers), who have trouble pronouncing their sounds (articulation), have difficulty putting words together in sentences or understanding sentences (language development), or have trouble speaking smoothly (stuttering or stammering). Most of our work with young children is through play therapy. 

We work with families as a team, since you know your child best, and we provide materials, activities, and ideas for a home program. Most children attend weekly 45-minute therapy visits, and usually family members are in the therapy session, where we can explain what we are doing and recommend activities for home. In some situations, children work best on their own with the therapist.  What to Speech Therapists Do?

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How can we help your child?

While every child develops at his or her own speed, if you notice that your child’s speech and language skills are significantly behind peers, you may wish to consult with a speech therapist. If you are not sure whether your child is delayed, it is worth having a check-up. Our first step is an evaluation, which can be ordered or prescribed by your doctor. Evaluations are scheduled in our office (3600 Lind Avenue, Renton) and usually take 60-90 minutes. If you need an interpreter, Children’s Therapy will provide one. 

Call 425-656-4215 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, to speak with a scheduler.

During the appointment, our speech therapist will discuss your concerns about your child and perform a comprehensive evaluation. Depending on your child’s age, needs, and skills, this is done through a standardized assessment, and/or by observation, and discussion with caregivers. The speech therapist will explain the results of the assessment, and give you a recommendation about whether to seek speech therapy services. Speech therapy is conducted in 45-minute therapy sessions usually weekly or biweekly. 

Sometimes our speech therapist may see signs that your child can benefit from other services as well, and recommend an evaluation with an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or family counselor at Children’s Therapy. We also provide information about other services available in the community such as Birth-to-Three programs, or school district-based services for children over 3 years of age. If necessary we may suggest that your child be seen by medical providers such as an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT), or a neurologist. Because hearing is essential to learning spoken language, the speech therapist may recommend an audiology examination to be sure that your child can hear well. Pediatric audiologists are skilled at carrying out hearing tests with young children.

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When Should our Family Seek Help?

Consider scheduling an evaluation if any of the following are NOT displayed by your child:

  • 12 months to 18 months: shows interest in communicating with people; has started to use words and make speech-like sounds; understands simple instructions 
  • 18 months: has started to say and use single words.
  • 2 years: uses words to ask for basic needs; uses 2-4 word sentences; has vocabulary of 50-100 words. 
  • 3 years: speech is intelligible (i.e. understandable) 75% of the time; uses words to express ideas.
  • 4 years of age: can ask and answer questions, follow directions, and speak in sentences. 
  • 5 years: is 95-100% intelligible to unfamiliar listener; can tell a story; uses verb tenses; uses all kinds of sentences.
  • 5-7 years: pronunciation is clear for sounds such as S, L and R.
  • 6-7 years: can learn to sound out words for reading. 

Also consider contacting a speech therapist if your child:

  • Shows lack of interest in playing with other children or talking to peers or adults
  • Consistently will not speak to unfamiliar people or in public situations such as school 
  • Has trouble understanding what they have been taught in school, either by hearing or reading the material
  • Has difficulty with social language, knowing what to say and how to respond in different situations.
  • Is a very picky eater, only accepting a few foods
  • Is stuttering or stammering (speech is not fluent—repeats words or syllables)
  • Has changes to his or her voice such as hoarseness or nasality

For more information on child language development, visit ASHA’s information pages

http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/

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How do we do speech therapy?

A treatment plan is written by the evaluating therapist, unique to the child’s needs, based on clinical evidence (i.e. the best scientific clinical studies). The treatment plan may be revised based on the child’s progress and the parents’ priorities. With very young children who are still learning to communicate and talk, we use play-based therapy. This may include toys, games, arts and crafts, puzzles, books, gym activities and anything that is interesting and motivating to your child. We want to engage children at their level and get them excited about communicating, targeting their own likes, skills and interests. Some children also benefit from learning some sign language, or using picture communication systems, to assist their language development. We provide support for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC--both high-tech and low-tech). 

For older children with specific speech and language needs, we keep the fun element but focus on skill-building using table-based activities, including books, picture cards, board games, and other specialized speech and language materials. Every child is an individual and requires an individualized plan. We are best able to help a child when we team up with the family and other providers. 

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Why would my child need speech therapy? Don’t kids just grow out of these problems?

Speech and language development stages vary for each child, but still proceed along typical pathways. Often, children will not “grow out of” their delays. If there is any question about a child’s development, it is best to check with your child’s physician. If you decide to seek an evaluation, the speech therapist can distinguish between typical delays that children will grow out of, or issues that need therapy. 

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How long does it take?

Each child is unique, so we cannot define a specific timeline. While it is not possible to predict results, most of our patients show progress within a few months, with regular attendance, and consistent participation in a home program with family support. 

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Will insurance cover speech therapy?

Many health insurance plans cover speech therapy, but it is a good idea to call your company to find out. Some policies cover certain diagnoses but not others. Often, Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts can cover therapy.

Specific help can be found on the Washington Speech Hearing Language Association’s website:

http://www.wslha.org/consumer-information

For more advice, see ASHA’s page About Health Insurance http://www.asha.org/public/coverage/  

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