EARLY SPEECH & LANGUAGE
Speech-language pathologists are communication experts! Gooseberry Speech Therapy focuses on supporting early speech and language development and stuttering.
First words are an exciting milestone for your child’s communication! For most kids, this typically happens around 12 months old. However, there are important prelinguistic skills that babies master even before they speak. These are the foundations of good communication and include: eye contact, imitating, using gestures and sounds, pointing, and facial expressions.
Expressive and receptive language continues to develop after the first year. Your child will start combining words together to answer questions, tell you their wants and needs, follow directions and routines, and identify objects. Some kids may experience delays in developing one or several of these skills.
By preschool, your child should be able to form sentences, ask and answer questions, follow multiple-step directions and form early grammar. They have lots of words in their vocabulary to talk about objects and actions. As an early literacy skill, they might start to rhyme easy words like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’. Kids at this age are focused on using communication as a tool to learn about the world around them and interact with others. Difficulties with communication development at this stage may hinder successful participation in learning environments like school or engaging socially with peers.
Speech targets how we say sounds and words. As toddlers are first learning to put sounds together to make words, they tend to make a lot of mistakes and can be difficult to understand. This is perfectly normal! However, between 3-5 years old, we want them to start speaking more clearly. Early speech skills are related to literacy development so it is recommended to address any concerns as early as possible. Speech therapy and LOTS of practice can help remediate any errors that are not appropriate for their age. We can also evaluate and treat complex speech disorders like childhood apraxia of speech.
Communication is essential to our everyday lives and children must learn how to do so effectively at a very young age. If there is a breakdown in your child’s ability to communicate their wants and needs, it may lead to increased meltdowns and unwanted behaviors, and frustration for everyone involved. We can help! There are numerous reasons that a child’s speech or language skills might be delayed or disordered, but early intervention can ease daily frustrations and build important foundational skills before children start school.
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language and are not sure if you should be worried or not,
give us a call!
Fluency is the ability for speech to flow easily while we talk. The most common fluency disorder is stuttering. Stuttering typically develops around the preschool years.
WHAT IS STUTTERING?
Stuttering is a break in the flow of speech that makes it difficult to understand the speaker and can make communicating feel stressful. Often this is characterized by atypical disfluencies like repeating sounds (d-d-d-dog), blocking on words, or prolonging sounds (ssssssmall). Stuttering events may be mild to severe with significant tension and effort. These frequent instances of getting “stuck” and the anxiety around stuttering can lead to avoidance behaviors. Even very young children can be aware that their speech doesn’t sound like everyone else’s.
WHAT CAUSES STUTTERING?
Researchers don't know the exact cause of stuttering, but we know that it is neurological and not caused by something a child or parent did or didn’t do. There are certain predispositions that may increase the likelihood that a child will stutter, for example, if someone in your family stutters. There are also certain risk factors that contribute to whether your child will continue to stutter.
Stuttering can co-occur with other disorders, such as speech sound or language disorders so it is important to evaluate those areas of communication as well.
WILL IT GO AWAY ON ITS OWN?
Everyone experiences some normal disfluencies in their speech. This includes: repeating words or phrases, adding fillers like “um” or “uh”, or revising your sentence as you go. Preschoolers naturally have a lot of these disfluencies in their speech because they are just starting to use more advanced language.
Stuttering typically appears between age 2 and 5. While some children will grow out of stuttering spontaneously, many do not. This typically will happen within the first 6-8 months after it starts. The longer a child stutters, the less likely they are to recover, and will likely continue to stutter into adulthood. If you have heard “don't worry about it, they will grow out of it eventually”, but you are still concerned about your child stuttering, that is enough reason to seek out a professional evaluation from an SLP. Treatment is family-focused with the goal of eliminating or reducing disfluencies and developing a healthy attitude towards communication.
Schedule a stuttering evaluation for your child.
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Speech-language and stuttering evaluation and therapy appointments are available for virtual visits only at this time. Please book online.
WHAT TO EXPECT
An intake phone conversation will be completed with the therapist to gather information about your child, your concerns, and relevant health and developmental history. We will go over any intake forms and paperwork. A comprehensive evaluation using the teletherapy platform will be scheduled .
The certified speech language pathologist will complete a comprehensive evaluation. This will include observation, parent questionnaire, and assessment as appropriate. Please reserve 2 hours for this session to ensure the therapist has enough time to be as thorough as possible. Results will be shared and a complete evaluation report will be provided within 2 weeks. An initial session will be scheduled if ongoing therapy is recommended.
Initial Treatment Session
Initial therapy session: a plan of care will be created in collaboration with you to set the foundation for family-centered goals and therapy. The frequency of ongoing treatment sessions will be determined at this time to best support progress.
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