Speech and Language

Speech and Language

Certified speech and language specialists evaluate students to determine if they are eligible for speech services.  If a student qualifies for the program, the parent/guardian is consulted and an Individual Education Plan is developed for the child.

Speech language pathologist/speech language specialists are professionals who diagnosis and treat speech, language and related disorders.  They teach people coping strategies and provide treatment to eliminate speech, language and related problems. Speech language pathologists are often referred to as speech language specialists.

Language disorders: difficulty understanding and using language to communicate.  Common characteristics include understanding and using vocabulary; word order; grammar; difficulty understanding directions of using language appropriately with peers and adults.

Articulation, phonology, oral motor, apraxia disorders:  difficulty in forming and combining sounds or in learning the rules of using sounds of the language.

Voice disorder:  difficulty with pitch, loudness, quality or duration. The child's voice may sound too high, too low, hoarse, hyper nasal, too soft, too loud, too fast or too slow.

Stuttering or fluency: difficulty with timing or rhythm of speaking.  Features include hesitations, repetitions, prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases or difficulty initiating speech.

Hearing loss:  different types of losses can affect the acquisition of language.  Middle ear infections, or otitis media, are the second most common health problem among preschool children, outranked only by the common cold.  Otitis media can cause temporary hearing loss and repeated episodes can damage hearing permanently.  A pediatric audiologist, as well as a speech language pathologist,  should evaluate children who have frequent ear infections to make certain their language development is not delayed.

Auditory processing:  The term hearing generally refers to the operation of the parts of the ear starting at the outer ear and ending at the auditory nerve, which carries auditory information to the brain.  It is at the brain level that we make use of the auditory signal.  The use we make of this auditory signal is what is called central auditory processing (CAP).  Children with central auditory processing deficits (CAPD), typically have normal hearing sensitivity, but experience difficulty analyzing or making sense of what they hear.

Another disability that affects communication is Autism.  Autism is a neurological disorder, usually diagnosed around the 2nd year of life.  Autism affects language, social and peer interactions.  Discrete trials (repetitive reinforced lessons) are the most successful teaching techniques used with children with autism. 

Some non verbal children with autism use augmentative and alternative communication devices to help them communicate, such as the Picture Exchange System or electronic communication devices.