What is Speech Therapy?

Articulation is the production of speech sounds. As children acquire new language and start using new words, many of them often make some speech errors. These are referred to as developmental (typical) errors and for some children, with time, these errors are corrected. An articulation delay/disorder is present when the child continues to make speech errors past a certain age. Take a look at the sound chart on the link below to see whether or not your child is in the typical arena.

http://mommyspeechtherapy.com/wp-content/downloads/forms/sound_development_chart.pdf

Phonology deals with the rules for the structure and sequencing of speech sounds and is related to language development and reading skills. Children who present with a phonological (sound sequencing ) delay are hard to understand and may also have difficulties learning to read and acquire new language due to weak phonological (sound) awareness skills. For further information click on the link below.

https://childdevelopment.com.au/resources/child-development-charts/phonological-sound-awareness-developmental-checklist/?print=pdf

Dyspraxia is a motor speech disorder and is described as the partial loss of the ability to co-ordinate purposeful movements necessary for speech and gross (large) and fine (small) motor skills. Dyspraxia can occur anywhere in the body (i.e., clumsy feeling, bumping into things, trouble producing words/sounds) and is situation dependent. Some words or sounds can be made in one event and not in the next. At times, the harder a person tries to make the movement and/or sound, the more difficult it becomes.

Apraxia is a motor speech disorder and is a more involved type of speech delay in which the brain has difficulties sequencing the articulators (lips, jaw, tongue) used for speech. Children diagnosed with apraxia are very hard to understand and have trouble saying sounds, syllables and words. They know what they want to say; however, their brain has trouble coordinating the muscle movements necessary to produce the words.

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder directly related to neurological damage as a result of stroke or other type of brain injury (i.e., traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc.). Dysarthria negatively affects the strength of the muscles of the mouth, face and respiratory system. Both children and adults can be diagnosed with dysarthria. People diagnosed with dysarthria may present with the following symptoms based on the severity of damage to their nervous system:

  • Limited articulatory movement – “slurred speech”
  • Slow rate or rapid rate of speech
  • Changes in vocal quality – soft (whisper like speech), hoarseness, nasal sounding
  • Drooling & swallowing difficulties
What is Language Processing Therapy?

Language processing is the ability to attach word meaning to auditory information that is received, and then formulate a response. Adults and children with language processing difficulties typically have intact hearing and near normal to average receptive (understanding) and expressive (use) language skills. However, they experience difficulty attaching meaning to what they hear/read and as a result have troubles understanding/processing incoming information. The Speech – Language Network can provide intervention and treatment for individuals experiencing language processing delays. Therapy would target strengthening central resources such as language, problem-solving, memory, attention, and other cognitive skills so that they can be used to help compensate and overcome the auditory delay. Other factors such as changing the learning and communication environment would also be reviewed.

What is Language Therapy?

The Speech-Language Network can provide intervention and treatment for language delays. Language therapy may include but is not limited to:

  • Basic concept development
  • Oral Language comprehension (receptive language) – concept & vocabulary development, problem solving, language processing
  • Oral language expression (expressive language) – functional labeling & requesting, word & sentence structures, expressing thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely
  • Reading Comprehension – language organization
  • Social (pragmatic) Language Therapy – learning how to socially use, change and follow language in different contexts and environments.

In Language Therapy we look at:

1. Form
Phonology – relates to the sounds of language and how they are combined to form words and phrases
Morphology – relates to word structures and influences phonetics, vocabulary (semantics) and syntax (sentence structure)
Syntax – relates to the rules that govern word order in phrases and sentences and influences the understanding of oral and written language

2. Content
Semantics – relates to the knowledge of word meanings for specific words, categories, and context to determine meaning or to have the ability to select the appropriate word to convey a thought or idea

3. Function
Pragmatics – is related to using language (greeting, requesting, demanding, etc), changing language (talking differently to a teenager than a baby, speaking differently in a library versus than at the park, etc) and following rules (taking turns in a conversation, staying on topic, how to read verbal and non-verbal cues, etc).

Language treatment goals and objectives are created based on formal and informal assessments to pinpoint where specific language breakdowns are occurring. Children may require language therapy due to a specific diagnosis which directly affects their language skills (i.e., Receptive/Expressive Language Delay, Specific Language Impairment, Autism, Down Syndrome, Hearing Loss), a developmental delay and/or because they have difficulties acquiring language in the same way as their peers.
Adults may require language therapy as a result of a stroke, closed head injury, traumatic brain injury and/or as a result of other neurogenic disorders.

What is Fluency Therapy?

The Speech-Language Network can provide intervention and treatment for individuals who stutter. Therapy often includes behavioral methods that address feelings and emotions surrounding stuttering. Therapy also targets the speech mechanism (i.e., learning to control breathing, using light touches with our articulators, etc.) and slowing the rate of speech. For further information click on the link below.

http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/stuttering/

What is Social Skills Language Therapy?

Social language skills encompass more than using please and thank you and waiting your turn in a conversation. Social language refers to one’s ability to socially use language (greeting, requesting, demanding), change language (talking differently to a teenager than a baby, speaking differently in a library than at the park) and follow the rules of social language exchanges (taking turns in a conversation, staying on topic, how to read verbal and non-verbal cues) across different cultures and environments.

Common characteristics of delayed social language skills are individuals who have impaired theory of mind (understanding different beliefs, moods, motivations) and weak perspective taking skills (ability to relate with others, empathize, relate to non-verbal cues). Social language skills impacts a child’s and adult’s day to day life and plays a critical role in their emotional and professional success in school and at work.

The Speech-Language Network can provide intervention and treatment for individuals who present with weak social language skills. These social language groups are designed for children, youth, teens and adults who present with social communication delays. Groups are based on age and areas of need.

Individuals who may benefit from one of our Social Language Groups may:

  1. Have trouble making friends and interacting with peers/colleagues
  2. Have trouble interacting and being a part of a group
  3. Be socially anxious or awkward
  4. Have trouble initiating conversations and social interactions
  5. Have difficulties reading body language, facial expressions, context
  6. Have trouble figuring out other’s intentions
  7. Have weak time management skills
  8. Have an inability to understand figurative language
  9. Be struggling with reading comprehension
  10. Not show empathy, sympathy, common courtesy
  11. Have poor planning and organization skills

Programs include:

  • Social language activities (i.e., Role Play or Guided Practice, Activities and Games, Video and Visual Support, Social Stories Scripts,Homework and Parent Tips & Ideas, Positive Reinforcement, Problem Solving techniques)
  • Social Language Theories/Lessons from; Braidy Social Language program, Social Thinking Publications – Michelle Garcia Winner, Phyllis Kupperman Programs and Model Me Kids
  • Peer interaction and social activities targeting specific social language goals
  • Take home activities
  • Parent/Family Education
What is Voice Therapy?

Voice disorders include inappropriate pitch, quality, loudness and/or complete voice loss. These conditions may result from damage to the vocal cords due to surgery, misuse of the voice (speaking loudly for long periods of time, overuse, singing, yelling), disease (cancer of the larynx) , or other conditions (cerebral palsy, hearing impairments or cleft palate).

The Speech-Language Network can provide direct voice therapy. Therapy may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Increasing awareness of good vocal hygiene
  • Reducing/stopping abusive vocal behaviors
  • Direct voice treatment to alter pitch, loudness and proper breath support for good voicing
  • Relaxation exercise and stress reduction techniques

Note: Voice disorders may be functional or organic in nature. Therefore, a medical referral is required prior to initiating therapy. All possible medical conditions need to be reviewed and/or ruled out before therapy is started.

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a set of strategies and tools individuals use to solve everyday communication challenges. AAC is used to help support individuals in expressing their needs, wants, ideas and thoughts through various forms of communication (e.g., text, gesture, facial expressions, speech/voice generating device).

Individuals with severe speech and/or language difficulties often use AAC to supplement existing means of communication or replace communication that is not understood by another person. AAC is used to enhance total communication.

The Speech-Language Network can provide AAC consultation, family support and treatment for potential AAC users for unaided communication systems (gesture, body language or sign language) and aided communication systems (paper and pencil, picture systems, speech generating devices).

What is Accent and Voice Therapy?

Learning the speech patterns of a new language usually requires specialized training and practice. Accents are a signature to an individual’s linguistic background. However, when people pay more attention to how you speak than what you say, it is considered a communication barrier.

Kara Broks, SLP & director of the Speech Language Network has specialized training and certification in the COPTON P-ESL program and has been mentored by leaders in the field of Accent and Voice training. Using this systematic therapy approach, in conjunction with an at-home training program, individuals can learn to alter their pronunciation of vowel and consonant sounds, change their prosody and intonation and learn new patterns of stress and rhythm. Furthermore, they will acquire better use of English grammar, understand the flow of Canadian English and achieve more effective communication skills.

Starting with a diagnostic assessment, the Speech-Language Network will create a personalized Accent and Voice training program to meet your unique needs and time constraints and support you through the process of achieving clarity in your commination interactions.