Speech therapy for children exists to find the causes and cures of many types of speech impediments and deficiencies in kids. These problems involve the language, understandability, fluency and volume of speech in children, and can also include difficulties with swallowing. The causes are usually developmental delays, accidents or genetic disorders and are often treatable. It is important that these issues are attended to in children of a young age because it is the most critical time in the process of human speech development.
A person who specializes in speech therapy for children is known as a pediatric speech language pathologist, and there are many people with a less specialized knowledge who are known as children’s speech therapists, speech teachers and more. The techniques that are involved with speech therapy in children are similar to adult speech therapy, yet there are still many differences due to the specific needs of younger age groups. Most of the time, children’s speech therapists address problems that are a result of children who missed key developmental milestones and are below the learning curve as a result.
Often, the problems in the speech of children are mechanical, meaning that they have repetitive problems with one or many different sounds for one or several reasons. Speech therapy for these and all types of cases requires much patience and understanding. In severe or unusually young cases, the child may only be able to communicate a small amount verbally, requiring even more skill in fixing the problem.
In speech therapy for children, there are many standardized tests and other assessment methods used to diagnose the causes of speech problems as well as their subsequent cure. A speech therapist can also use a number of tools to help correct problems, and occasionally these tools must be custom made for children in speech therapy because of their varying sizes along with the specificity of the problem. Similarly, each child’s case can be very unique, which requires the therapist to be able to individualize the method that he or she will use to help that child.
During the speech therapy process, which can take a long time, it is essential to track the progress of the individual and record any changes for better or worse that may occur. It is also an essential duty in speech therapy for children to counsel family not only on progress, but also on speech therapy activities and techniques that can be used daily in the home to aid a child’s speech. A therapist may also work closely with teachers in a school to help ensure continuous aid to a child and to attend to his or her speech development needs.
Many organizations exist to promote the advancement of knowledge on the many different facets of children’s speech therapy. Some do this through continuous research and case studies, which they share with people in the field. Other groups are more geared towards creating and enhancing the tools and equipment used every day to help children to reach developmental speech milestones.