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Let’s Talk Articulation!

When Do I Bring My Child for a Speech Sound Evaluation?

As our children grow and develop speech, they don’t learn to use all the speech sounds in their native language simultaneously.  That’s why my little one tells me that “it’s dart outside” when he looks out the window after dinner these days!  But how do you know when to seek out a speech therapist for your child?  

Check out the chart below, which is available as a downloadable PDF on the SLP now website at https://blog.slpnow.com/the-slps-guide-to-speech-sound-disorders-articulation-phonological-development/; when looking at the chart, understand that some children start to develop sounds before the ages listed. The ages listed represent the age at which 90% of children have mastered each sound. For many speech sounds, there is a wide range of ages at which a child may start to produce the sound or approximations inconsistently before they truly master the sound. However, it is a quick rule of thumb that if a child cannot produce one of the sounds listed under their age, speech therapy may be indicated.

 

 

What Can I Do at Home to Help My Child with Their Speech Sounds?

So, what can a parent do to help their child develop speech sounds correctly at home? The first strategy I recommend is to make sure your child is looking at your face when you’re producing words or sounds that they had difficulty with. Draw attention to your mouth by pointing.  Children learn a lot about how a sound is produced by observing you. 

Another strategy that you can use is called recasting. Recasting is when you repeat what your child says precisely, including the errors, in a questioning voice. For example, if your child says, “Look at the tar” when they mean “Look at the car,” you might respond by saying, “Tar? Is that what you meant?” When the child attempts to correct himself or herself, if he or she cannot do so, I suggest using the first strategy we discussed.  Your child may not produce the sound at that moment, but that’s okay because they are still learning from what they see and hear from you.

I also recommend reading with your child regularly. Even if a child cannot read independently, draw their attention to some of the letters in the book, especially if the book has large decorative letters at the beginning of paragraphs. Talk about the sound the letters make, and again, ensure your child is watching your face. 

For emerging readers, phonics activities are an excellent time to work on articulation at home. While doing phonics homework with your child, could you talk about how each sound is made?  For example, the “T sound is made with our tongue on the roof of her mouth.” If you’re unsure how to describe how sounds are made, PeechieSpeechie.com has an excellent video library with tutorials for each sound.

If your child is receiving speech therapy services, their SLP will be able to provide you with additional, personalized resources.

How Can Carolina Therapy Connection Help? 

If you are still unsure or feel that your child’s speech is difficult to understand compared to others his/her age, Carolina Therapy Connection has licensed Speech Language Pathologists at the clinics in Greenville, Goldsboro, and New Bern that are highly qualified to evaluate and diagnose speech sound disorders.  You can schedule a speech sound evaluation at whichever clinic is most convenient for your family at 252-341-9944.  Our professionals can also provide personalized resources for your child’s needs. 

 

By Michelle Berghold

 

Stuttering: Developmental or Disordered?

Stuttering in children is a speech disorder characterized by disruptions in the natural flow of speech. Developmental stuttering is a common experience, typically emerging between the ages of 2 and 5 when children are first learning to speak fluently and developing a large repertoire of words, phrases, and sentences. While many kids experience a phase of disfluency in their normal speech development and may outgrow it, some might continue to stutter as they grow older. In this case, speech therapy may be recommended.

 

 

Causes of Stuttering in Children

The exact cause remains unclear, but it’s believed to arise from a combination of genetic, neurophysiological, and environmental factors. Children with a family history of stuttering are more likely to develop it. Some kids experience stuttering due to differences in brain structure or function related to speech production. Emotional factors like stress, pressure to communicate quickly, or a hurried environment can also increase stuttering. Stuttering occurs at the initiation of voice, which is why we typically hear disfluencies at the beginning of words and phrases.

 

According to Johns Hopkins Hospital, A child is more likely to stutter if he or she has:

 

  • A family history of stuttering
  • Stuttered for 6+ months
  • Other speech or language disorders
  • Strong emotions about stuttering or family members with fears or concerns

 

Types of Disfluencies

Stuttering manifests in various ways, such as repetitions (repeating sounds, syllables, or words), prolongations (elongating sounds), and blocks (inability to produce sounds). These disruptions can lead to tension and anxiety, causing the child to avoid certain words or situations where they might feel pressured to speak.

 

Speech Therapy for Stuttering:

Speech therapists play a crucial role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating stuttering. Here are some primary approaches utilized in speech therapy:

 

Speech Modification Techniques: Therapists teach children to use gentle starts to sentences, and employ smooth, relaxed breathing patterns. This helps in reducing the frequency and severity of stuttering moments. Continuous phonation, for example, is a technique where speakers learn to keep their voice on and vocal folds vibrating throughout speech. 

 

Fluency Shaping: This technique focuses on reshaping the child’s speech patterns by teaching smoother speech movements. It involves controlled breathing, gentle voicing, and gradually increasing sentence length to enhance fluency.

 

Stuttering Modification: This approach concentrates on changing the child’s emotional and cognitive reactions to stuttering. It involves desensitizing the child to the fear and anxiety associated with stuttering and teaching strategies to manage and accept disfluency.

 

Parental Involvement: Educating parents about stuttering and how to support their child’s speech development is key to increasing the child’s success. Therapists often teach parents techniques to practice at home, creating a supportive environment for the child’s progress.

 

Communication Skills Training: This includes enhancing overall communication skills, like turn-taking and using pauses effectively. It helps in building the child’s confidence and reducing the pressure associated with speaking.

 

Long-Term Outlook

Many young children outgrow developmental stuttering; however, some might continue to stutter into adolescence and adulthood. In such cases, ongoing therapy, support groups, and strategies for managing stuttering in social and professional settings become vital.

 

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

Children who sutter often benefit from therapy from skilled Speech-Language Pathologists. Stuttering in children is a complex speech disorder that necessitates early intervention and specialized therapy. Speech therapists employ a variety of techniques focusing on speech modification, emotional support, and overall communication enhancement to help children manage and, in many cases, overcome stuttering. Family involvement and a supportive environment are fundamental in the child’s journey towards improved fluency and confidence in communication. At Carolina Therapy Connection, our treatment is highly individualized to your child’s needs. A standardized assessment will be administered to detect any disfluencies, and our therapists will work with you and your child to develop a plan for enhancing skills to build confidence across all social environments (home, school, social groups, etc). If you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s development, call our clinic at (252) 341-9944.

 

By Ashley Holloway, MS, CCC-SLP, CAS

 

 

What is AAC?

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It encompasses all of the ways in which an individual may communicate outside of speaking verbally. Augmentative communication means to add to someone’s existing speech skills, and alternative means to be used in place of verbal speech. There are many different kinds of AAC including, but not limited to: gestures, facial expressions, writing, pictures symbols (e.g., picture exchange communication system/ PECS), drawing, sign language, high-tech speech generating devices, communication boards, etc. Some people may use one of these modalities, and some may use multiple modalities depending on the way in which they can most quickly and clearly communicate the topic.

Who Needs AAC?

Many different people use AAC throughout their lifetime. It can be used across the lifespan by any age, at any time, and for a variety of different reasons. Some people use AAC for their entire life, and some use it for only a short period of time. AAC can help any person who has difficulty fully or partially meeting their daily communication needs such as expressing wants and needs, socializing, asking questions, and a variety of other functions.

 

 

How can AAC help your child?

AAC may be able to help your child if they have difficulty being understood by others, have a limited vocabulary, demonstrate limited spontaneous speech, are non-speaking, and a variety of other different reasons. There are no prerequisite skills to your child beginning to use AAC. One common misconception is that AAC will hinder language development or cause your child to become dependent on it for communication. While some children may have minimal to no verbal speech throughout their lifetime, there is research to show that AAC can actually help children to develop language. Using AAC can also help to reduce frustration surrounding communication attempts, and help your child to communicate their needs more clearly, quickly, and effectively.

 

 

Parent’s Role in AAC

When introducing AAC to your child, it is important for family members/ caregivers to make the commitment to help the child succeed with the chosen AAC device. Your input is crucial in helping to choose and develop an appropriate AAC system, and using the device at home and in the community is a vital step to help both you and the child continue to learn the system. According to Jane Korsten, SLP, the average 18-month-old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours/ day from birth. A child who has a communication system (AAC) and receives speech/language therapy 2 times/week for 20-30 minutes will reach the same amount of language exposure (in their AAC language) in 84 years. It is our role as professionals and caregivers to help minimize the communication gap between oral language users and AAC users. 

Modeling:  Modeling is an awesome way to both learn your child’s AAC system, and teach them an example of how they can use it. The best way to model is to speak and use the system at the same time, although you do not always have to select an icon for every word you say. For example, you may verbally say “time to go to school” while modeling “go” and “school” on the AAC system. A general rule of thumb is to model the number of icons your child is currently using, plus one. If your child uses 1 icon at a time, you may choose to model 1-2 icons at this time. It is important to model without expectation, meaning that you use the AAC system without expecting or requiring the child to respond, withholding items or activities, or “testing” their skills. The goal is to provide an example to the AAC learner, which they will then learn by watching and listening to what you do/say.

 

How can CTC help you and your child?

Whether your child is already receiving speech/language therapy services at our clinic or not, CTC is ready to help support both parents and children through their own individual journey with Augmentative and Alternative Communication. If you believe that your child may benefit from the use of AAC, talk to one of our many incredible speech-language pathologists to begin the process of figuring out what type of system (no tech, low-tech, mid-tech, high-tech) will work best. This process can take time, but with your support and the support of your SLP, it is possible to find the right system for your child!