What is speech & language therapy?

Speech & language therapy improves a child’s ability to understand speech and to communicate with others, as well as oral motor and feeding skills.

Speech is the verbal and vocal means of human communication.

  • Speech refers to the actual production of sounds.
  • Speech disorders may include problems with producing speech clearly, using the voice correctly, and speaking fluently.

Language is made up of shared sound symbols that allow us to connect and interact with other human beings.

  • Receptive language disorders are difficulties understanding or processing language.
  • Expressive language disorders are difficulties sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely, including trouble putting words together, limited vocabulary, or an inability to use language in a socially acceptable way.

Feeding is another use of the mouth and throat that can run into difficulties. Feeding disorders may include:

  • Issues with taking in foods, chewing, or manipulating foods within the mouth.
  • Drinking liquids, via bottle, sipper cup, straw, or open cup.
  • Issues with various tastes and textures, and meeting nutritional needs as a result.
  • Swallowing issues (also called dysphagia) at various stages of the swallowing process.

When should a child see a speech-language pathologist?

A speech-language pathologist helps children who have difficulty with:

  • Pre-language skills, including making eye contact or facial expressions, gesturing, babbling, and/or imitating sounds.
  • Weak or uncoordinated facial and oral muscles necessary for speech or feeding, so that they can’t easily manipulate food while eating, or speak clearly.
  • Chewing, sucking from a straw or bottle, or frequently having food spill out of the mouth.
  • Producing words needed to communicate with others.
  • Receptive language, such as understanding and following directions.
  • Expressive language, such as putting words together or naming objects and family members or using sentences.
  • Using acceptable behavior and language in social situations, or understanding indirect requests and facial expressions.
  • Thinking skills such as word finding, organization, and problem solving.
  • Speech sounds, including articulation.
  • Speaking smoothly and fluently.

If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language or communication skills, please call CTS at 630-444-0077 to speak to a therapist or to speak to a client support specialist.