Speech and language abilities develop over the course of childhood and allow kids to express their needs, thoughts and feelings in increasingly complex ways. Speech therapists use the term ‘speech’ to refer to pronunciation and the term ‘language’ to refer to the ability to understand what others say as well as to use words and sentences to express ideas. Clear, fluent speech is what allows a child to be understood effortlessly by others. When speech is difficult to understand or negatively impacted by stuttering, attempting to communicate becomes frustrating for the child. Also, limited vocabulary, incorrect grammar and delays in combining sentences to recount events or participate in conversation can all lead to breakdowns in communication between the child and the people with whom he interacts.
Age-appropriate speech and language skills are the key to successful communication. And successful communication provides the foundation for positive social interactions that are the building blocks of all relationships. Speech and language abilities are therefore linked to social success as well as to academic achievement.
If speech and language issues are preventing your child from successful communication, speech therapy can be invaluable in sparking change and improvement. At Speech Express, we work directly with children to improve speech and language and we guide parents in how to help their children be successful communicators.
Assessment & Treatment
Experienced Speech-Language Pathologists Serving Montreal
The child who stutters has speech that is interrupted by involuntary disruptions. These disruptions include some or all of the following behaviours: repetitions of sounds or words, prolongations (stretching) of sounds, and blocks where the child gets stuck on a word and cannot move forward. Sometimes stuttering can be accompanied by observable muscle tension, loss of eye contact, grimacing or movements of arms, legs and head.
The child with an articulation delay/disorder has difficulty pronouncing speech sounds as expected for his age. For example, sounds that are typically more challenging for children to master are “s” and “r”. Speech therapy helps the child say sounds that are developmentally appropriate for his age.
The child with a phonological disorder is difficult for others to understand. He displays patterns of speech sound errors that serve to simplify his speech. However, these simplifications become problematic when children do not grow out of them. For example, a child might say “top” for “stop” because pronouncing “s” and “t” together is too difficult even though he may be able to say the “s” in a word like “sun”. This error pattern is considered typical of younger children but should no longer be present after a certain age.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech
The child with CAS knows what he wants to say but has difficulty organizing and sequencing the complex muscle movements needed to talk. The child may not talk at all or his speech may be effortful and hard for the listener to understand.
Tongue Thrust / Myofunctional Disorders
The child with a tongue thrust rests his tongue against or between his front teeth. In addition, he moves his tongue forward against the teeth instead of upward against the palate when swallowing. This habit may lead to speech difficulties, such as lisping, as well as to misaligned teeth requiring braces. If the child is undergoing orthodontic treatment already, braces or retainers may be ineffective if the tongue thrust is not corrected.
Preschool and School Age Language Delays and Disorders
The child with a language delay/disorder may start to talk later or use language differently than his peers. For example, he may have difficulty remembering the name of an object or an animal, putting words together to make a sentence, asking a question, telling a story or expressing his ideas. Some children also experience difficulty understanding what is said to them. They may not comprehend as many words as other children their age. These kids may have problems following instructions, answering questions and understanding stories.
The child with a voice disorder may sound hoarse or raspy and frequently lose his voice. Most childhood voice disorders are caused by behaviours such as frequent shouting, speaking too loudly or chronic throat clearing. Some voice disorders can be caused by structural or neurological problems. Therefore, Speech Express requires an evaluation and referral from an Ear Nose and Throat doctor prior to starting treatment.