Speech and Language

Speech has three components: articulation, oral motor control, and oral feeding. Articulation deals with any movement of the tongue, the lips, or the cheeks, as well as breath support to produce a sound. Age dictates which sounds are appropriate and which ones may need improvement. Oral motor intervention works with oral musculature in a pattern or series of sequential movements to increase strength, endurance, and agility for feeding and or speech. Oral feeding addresses taste, texture, temperature, as well as the amount consumed and diet.

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Language is symbolic representation of ideas and thoughts used for communication, and includes two components: receptive language and expressive language. Receptive language is the ability to respond to information that is heard or read. Disorders in this arena indicate that an individual has difficulty understanding what is said to them. Expressive language is the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings to others verbally. Disorders in this area suggest that a child has trouble verbalizing what it is he wants to say.

Receptive Skills Expressive Skills
  • Listening
  • Attention
  • Following directions
  • Play interaction
  • Problem solving
  • Peer interaction

  • Answering questions
  • Vocabulary usage
  • Sentence structure
  • Grammar
  • Conversation
  • Communication
  • Comprehension

Appropriate social and pragmatic interaction skills are necessary for a child to develop healthy friendships and relationships. Therapeutic evaluation identifies a need in this area based on the following: successful peer interaction, appropriate use of language for the situation, affective social engagements and eye contact, and ability to role play.

Auditory Processing deficits affect speech and language development as well. Please see “Auditory Processing” for more information.

Voice and Fluency dysfunction is an area requiring speech therapy evaluation. An evaluation assesses: voice quality, tone, and pitch. A child who misuses his or her voice may sound raspy, have a high pitch, or have frequent, chronic sore throats. Voice and fluency disorders may also be due to genetics, emotional issues, atypical anatomical placement, or behavior. Disorders of fluency may include stuttering episodes that consist of repetition of syllables, words, phrases, or sentences. The repetition can be situational. Stuttering can be caused by a period of rapid brain growth, which is typically demonstrated in stuttering at ages 3 and 5 years.

Augmentative Communication is any alternative means of enhancing or supplementing communication attempts. These can be manual, in the form of pictures, or through sophisticated electronic devices.

Manual Pictorial Electronic
Signing Picture board Dedicated device – specifically designed for communication
Gestures Picture book Software on the computer