I. What is a speech-language pathologist?
An SLP is a specialist that diagnoses and treats communication
disorders (see below). They hold a Master's degree from a
university with a speech-language/communication disorders
program. Their services are available through schools, hospitals,
clinics, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes.
II. What are speech-language delays/impairments? They are difficulties understanding or expressing thoughts. The
following are some types of speech-language impairments and
A. Stuttering (Fluency Impairment)-when an individual gets
"stuck" on a sound, syllable, word, or phrase so that the
flow of speech is interrupted.
Cause(s): The exact cause is unknown. Some factors
that may be involved are problems in the nervous
system, biological defects, emotional difficulties, or
B. Voice Impairment-involves speaking with an abnormal pitch, tone, or volume.
Cause(s): May include abuse to vocal cords (e.g., yelling
or clearing throat too much), inflammation of or growths
on the vocal cords, or emotional problems.
C. Articulation Impairment-involves problems in making the
correct speech sounds.
Cause(s): May be due to physical problems (e.g., hearing
loss, cleft palate, paralysis, muscular weakness), not
learning particular sounds, or the cause may be unknown.
D. Aphasia-the loss of the ability to use or understand words.
Cause(s): Brain damage from such events as a stroke or head injury.
E. Dysarthria-involves difficulty forming speech sounds due to
Cause(s): Damage to the nervous system, as from a
stroke or a disorder (e.g., cerebral palsy).
III. Why should we be concerned about speech-language delays/impairments?
is warranted because communication is necessary for a normal, happy
life. When problems develop, they can affect learning,
independence, relationships, and well being. Early treatment is
the key to preventing a speech and/or language impairment from turning
into a lifelong disability!
IV. What can I do as a parent to improve my child's communication skills?
A. Talk to your child a lot.
B. Keep words and sentence length at your child's level.
C. Listen when your child talks.
D. Read to your child every day.
E. Be patient and sympathetic.
F. Do not interrupt or try to finish their sentences.
G. If they have trouble understanding spoken language, speak slowly and clearly, using
gestures if necessary.
H. Try to limit distractions.