- Q. Can you treat children and adults who speak other languages?
- Q. What is Help Me Grow (HMG)?
- Q. Why is it important to identify speech, language and learning delays as early as possible?
- Q. What should I do if I think that my child has a problem with speech, language, reading or writing?
- Q. What is the purpose of a speech-language evaluation?
- Q. What is the cause/reason why my child has a speech-language disorder?
- Q. What is autism?
- Q. What can I do to help my child at home?
- Q. What are some signs or symptoms of autism?
- Q. What are signs and symptoms of stuttering?
- Q. Our 5-year-old daughter stutters occasionally, and I say, "Stop. Take a deep breath. Slow down." Is that good advice?
- Q. My child was developing quite normally until the age of 18 months; At that time, I noticed a change in his behavior. He stopped talking, didn't look at us and seemed to be in his own world. What should I do?
- Q. Lately, I've noticed that when my little boy watches television, he turns the volume up louder and louder. Should I be concerned?
- Q. If my child is not speaking at age 2, should I wait longer to see if he/she will begin to talk?
- Q. How many times per week and for how long do therapy sessions last?
- Q. Do you also see adult clients, and what are the typical diagnoses?
- Q. Do I need a special referral to receive services?
- Q. At what age can a speech-language pathologist identify if my child has a speech/language delay?
- Q. Should I have my child's hearing tested?
Q. Can you treat children and adults who speak other languages?
A. Yes. ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists are trained to work with interpreters to assess the communication skills and needs of speakers of languages other than English.
Q. What is Help Me Grow (HMG)?
A. Ohio's early intervention system, Help Me Grow (HMG), is the statewide, family-centered, coordinated system serving children birth to 3 years of age who have or are at risk for developmental delays. Any family, regardless of income level, with a concern about the development of their infant or toddler is entitled to an evaluation and assessment to determine eligibility for HMG services. Information about Ohio's Help Me Grow Program is available at www.ohiohelpmegrow.ohio.gov.
Q. Why is it important to identify speech, language and learning delays as early as possible?
A. There are three primary reasons for intervening early with an exceptional child: to enhance the child's development, to provide support and assistance to the family and to maximize the child's and family's benefit to society.
Child development research has established that the rate of human learning and development is most rapid in the preschool years. Timing of intervention becomes particularly important when a child runs the risk of missing an opportunity to learn during a state of maximum readiness. If the most teachable moments or stages of greatest readiness are not taken advantage of, a child may have difficulty learning a particular skill at a later time. Karnes and Lee (1978) have noted that "only through early identification and appropriate programming can children develop their potential" (p. 1).
After nearly 50 years of research, there is evidence, both quantitative (data-based) and qualitative (reports of parents and teachers), that early intervention increases the developmental and educational gains for the child, improves the functioning of the family and reaps long-term benefits for society. Early intervention has been shown to result in the child: (a) needing fewer special education and other habilitative services later in life; (b) being retained in grade less often; and (c) in some cases being indistinguishable from nonhandicapped classmates years after intervention.
Q. What should I do if I think that my child has a problem with speech, language, reading or writing?
A. You should schedule an evaluation with a licensed, certified speech-language pathologist. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) examine communication abilities in all areas (listening, speaking, reading, writing). They also help people improve communication skills in all of these areas.
Q. What is the purpose of a speech-language evaluation?
A. A speech-language evaluation can determine whether speech, language, reading and writing skills are developing according to typical expectations and whether or not therapy is needed. A speech-language pathologist with experience in child development can evaluate your child's specific strengths and needs and establish an organized plan of treatment, if one is warranted.
Q. What is the cause/reason why my child has a speech-language disorder?
A. In many instances, speech-language pathologists, pediatricians and neurologists are not able to pinpoint a cause for speech-language difficulties. Contributing factors may be medical or environmental in nature. For example, speech-language disorders can be associate with hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse or fetal exposure to drugs, various syndromes or other physical impairments. Also, vocal abuse or misuse may result in changes to the vocal folds that affects voice production and clarity of speech. Environmental factors that place children at risk for speech-language disorders include toxic lead levels can affect cognitive development and therefore speech-language abilities. Also, lack of experience/exposure to language can also limit a child's early language learning.
Q. What is autism?
A. According to the Autism Society of America, "autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism.
Q. What can I do to help my child at home?
A. Children who have been identified with speech-language impairments have likely established nonstandard patterns of speaking or have deficits that will require extra attention and training to improve. The speech-language pathologist (SLP) working with you and your child should serve as a "coach" to provide you with activities or homework to reinforce newly established skills and to strengthen emerging skills. One or two sessions a week is not enough, and your involvement in carryover activities is crucial to your child's communication development. Talk with your SLP about activities and games you can use at home to help.
Some things that may help your child's language development include:
- Book sharing (take turns holding the book and turning the pages, talk about the pictures, talk about the story, look for letters and words that are new to your child.
- Talk with your child during daily activities (doing laundry, doing dishes, buying groceries, bathtime, etc.) Give your child a job and talk while you work together.
For children with speech difficulties:
- Provide quiet "talk time" each day to give them a turn, uninterrupted, to share ideas and stories with you.
- Talk to your child face to face so that they can see how you move your tongue and lips to form sounds. Your example helps them to improve their own talking skills.
Q. What are some signs or symptoms of autism?
A. Children with autism may have problems with movement, communication and social skills, as well as difficulty understanding and reacting to the world around them. Not all "autistic-type" behaviors will exist in every person. Here are some signs to look for in children:
- Lack of or delay in spoken language
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
- Little or no eye contact
- Lack of interest in peer relationships; prefers to play alone
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Q. What are signs and symptoms of stuttering?
A. According to the Stuttering Foundation of America, stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. While everyone is disfluent some of the time, these disfluencies occur more often or with greater severity in persons who stutter than they do in the general population. Approximately 1 percent of the population stutters, with males being affected four times more than females.
Q. Our 5-year-old daughter stutters occasionally, and I say, "Stop. Take a deep breath. Slow down." Is that good advice?
A. This can sometimes be frustrating for the child to hear. It may be better if you were to listen to your child's message rather than focus on how she is speaking. You can influence your child's rate of speech by slowing down yourself. This provides the child with a good speaking model. However, if you notice that stuttering continues or increases, your child is embarrassed, is being teased by other children or is avoiding talking, or if you are extremely concerned, then you should contact a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation. All children go through periods of disfluency. An SLP with expertise in the area of stuttering will help you determine if this is typical disfluency or a problem that needs to be addressed. There are many effective strategies and programs for improving fluency in young children.
Q. My child was developing quite normally until the age of 18 months; At that time, I noticed a change in his behavior. He stopped talking, didn't look at us and seemed to be in his own world. What should I do?
A. When you see that your child is no longer saying or doing things he/she was previously able to do, it is very important for you to go to your pediatrician immediately. The pediatrician will examine your child and determine whether or not he needs specific testing (neurological, psychological, hearing, speech and language). Your physician, along with these other professionals, can help you determine the best course of action for your child.
Q. Lately, I've noticed that when my little boy watches television, he turns the volume up louder and louder. Should I be concerned?
A. Yes. You should take your child to your pediatrician or an ear, nose, throat specialist for a medical examination. The audiologist is the professional who can test your child's hearing to determine if there is hearing loss, middle-ear disease or other problems. The audiologist should have a master's or doctoral degree and be licensed and certified to practice.
Q. If my child is not speaking at age 2, should I wait longer to see if he/she will begin to talk?
A. While there is a wide range of "normal" with respect to typical development, a child should be producing his/her first word around his/her first birthday (range: between 10 and 18 months) and continue adding words steadily after that. At age 2, typical children have approximately 150 to 200 expressive words and start to combine them together into two-word phrases as they grow. If a child is not talking at all by age 2, he/she would be considerably behind these typical expectations, and an evaluation is warranted.
Q. How many times per week and for how long do therapy sessions last?
A. This varies for each client and his/her abilities and communication goals. Also, the client's ability to attend to the tasks for extended periods of time may also influence the length of a session. Generally, more complex disorder(s) and a greater number of goals are associated with more frequent or longer treatment sessions.
Q. Do you also see adult clients, and what are the typical diagnoses?
A. Our speech-language pathologists are trained to work with both children and adults. Adults requiring speech and language therapy have diagnoses of stroke, stuttering, voice disorders, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, learning difficulties, laryngectomy and hearing impairment.
Q. Do I need a special referral to receive services?
A. Generally, you can contact us for services at any time. If you choose to use insurance benefits to cover the cost of an evaluation or therapy, you may be required to have a referral from your primary care physician. If your insurance is provided through Medicare, a physician referral is needed for the evaluation as well as for therapy. Treatment plans need to be approved by the physician every 90 days. For people covered under Medicaid, a referral from the physician is required for treatment. This needs to be renewed every year.
Q. At what age can a speech-language pathologist identify if my child has a speech/language delay?
A. When there are known medical issues, such as Down syndrom, hearing loss or cleft palate, speech-language pathologists are usually engaged early in the child's development. If a child appears to be developing typically but is not babbling and gesturing by 12 months and has no spontaneous words by 16 months, he/she can be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to determine whether there is a delay. There are tests and rating scales that help the SLP assess your child's abilities based on your report and observation of the child, even when the child is under 1 year of age.
Q. Should I have my child's hearing tested?
A. Under Ohio law, newborn babies are tested at birth before they go home. At age three or four years, pediatricians will generally attempt a hearing screen at routine well child visits. Children entering kindergarten are required to have a hearing screen. After that, most school districts will continue to administer hearing screenings for elementary aged children every other year. If you ever have a concern or question about your child's hearing or speech language development, have them tested by an audiologist! Link to developmental norms (hearing test section).