Speech and Language

Speech and Language Difficulties

Speech Difficulties:
This refers to difficulties producing speech sounds and it impacts on the clarity of speech.

Language & Communication Difficulties:
This is an impairment in the ability to understand (receptive) and/or use (expressive) words. It includes inappropriate use of words and their meanings, the inability to express ideas, incorrect grammar, reduced vocabulary and the inability to follow directions.

Cognitive – Communicative Difficulties:
These are conditions that causes one to have difficulty thinking and processing information. Typically symptoms include change in awareness, perception, reasoning, memory and judgment.

Fluency Difficulties: 
It is characterized by an interruption in the flow of speech, which is referred to as stuttering. It includes repetition of sounds, prolongations and blocks.

Voice Problems: 
One may have difficulty with pitch, volume or quality of their voice such as hoarseness or loss of voice.

Swallowing Difficulties:
This refers to difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. It usually occurs with neurological conditions such a stroke, cerebral palsy or head trauma.

Speech and Language Assessments

The first step to improve any speech and language difficulties is an in-depth speech and language assessment.

Assessment procedures are chosen based on a child’s or adult’s age and the type of difficulties that one presents with. The initial appointment usually takes between 1-1 ½ hours depending on the complexity of the difficulties.

Upon completion of the assessment, a diagnosis is formulated and an assessment report is completed. The results of the assessment are then discussed with both the patient and/or parent.

The therapist and patient/parent will then work together to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Speech and Language Therapy

With very young children, therapy very often consists of parent counselling and language stimulation activities to help enable and support your child’s development.

Intervention activities for school-age children and teenagers encompass a wide range of language-based games, literacy activities, rhymes, music and art exercises that make language learning fun and enjoyable.

Adult clients benefit from a multitude of cognitive-communication techniques as well as technology to cater to the specific needs of our patients.

Speech-language therapy sessions are typically 30 minutes in duration and are recommended at least once a week. The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the difficulties, the age of the patient and the associated physical, emotional and social factors.

Therapy should begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy earlier (before age 5) tend to progress quicker than those who begin therapy later. This does not mean that older children do not make progress in therapy but they may progress at a slower rate because they often have learned patterns that may need to be changed.

Signs of Speech and Language Disorder

  • Does not appear to respond to voices and everyday sounds by age 6 to 8 weeks
  • A lack of interest in people and toys by the age of 3-4 months
  • No babbling by age 6-10 months
  • Not using single words by age 20 months
  • Not using 2-3 word combinations by age 24-30 months
  • Speech is not understandable by age 3-4 years
  • Not using appropriate and acceptable language structure by 4 years
  • Continues to have poor clarity of speech at approx 4,5 years and older

Who may need Speech-Language Therapy

  • Children with developmental delays
  • Learning difficulties
  • Written language disorders
  • Children with communication difficulties due to physical disabilities
  • Children with Autism
  • Stuttering
  • Feeding / Swallowing difficulties
  • Neurological dysfunction after a stroke or head injury
  • Hearing impairments
  • Cognitive (intellectual, thinking) delays
  • Weak oral/facial muscles
  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness
  • Birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate

Speech Red Flags In The Classroom

  • Difficulty following directions that are spoken or read
  • Difficulty comprehending a story that is spoken or read
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts or ideas to convey information clearly
  • Frequently use gestures instead of words to convey their message
  • Difficulty retaining the details or main idea of a story
  • Difficulty appropriately responding to questions or staying on topic
  • Difficulty reading or spelling
  • Difficulty recalling sequences of numbers or letters
  • Have poor clarity of speech
  • Frequently repeats sounds or phrases
  • Appear to be “stuck” on a sound or word (e.g. “Ssssssee you later”)
  • Become frustrated when they cannot clearly convey their message
  • Begin to shut down or withdraw from communicating