What Is Speech Sound Therapy?
Speech sound therapy is a type of speech-language pathology treatment that targets improving speaking skills, such as articulation (the ability to correctly pronounce each sound in a word). The main objective is for children’s production and comprehension levels in conversation.
If a child struggles with articulation, they may require medical evaluation and referral to a speech-language pathologist (SLP). After ruling out other health conditions that could be the source of your child’s speech problems, the SLP will suggest an action plan for helping her learn how to speak more clearly and confidently.
A speech-language pathologist is a doctor trained in all aspects of human communication and development. They can diagnose a child’s speech sound disorder by listening to her speak and observing her mouth movements.
Many children with speech sound disorders are born with them, but can also develop them due to developmental delays or immature growth and development. Furthermore, some have neurological impairments or cleft lip/palate structural differences in their mouth which prevent them from producing correct sounds and words.
A speech-language pathologist typically employs several types of therapy to address speech sound disorders. These may include:
Oral-Motor Training – Working on the assumption that impaired oral motor control or strength could be contributing to poor articulation, this type of therapy teaches articulators how to use their muscles in a controlled manner in order to create the correct sound.
Nonspeech Oral Exercises – This technique involves performing exercises and activities designed to strengthen the weak muscles in your jaw, lip, and tongue.
Though this practice has been used in speech-language therapy for some time, there are few research studies to back up its effectiveness. Despite this lack of data, this approach has become increasingly popular as it frees up valuable session time to focus on treatments that don’t involve speaking.
Through these exercises, children learn to say the target sound correctly in syllables and then generalize it into single words and sentences. Once they can accurately reproduce the desired sound in written form (syllables and words), they can work on using it in conversational speech as well.
Pediatricians commonly employ this method to treat articulation problems in young children. Although it can be challenging for parents to comprehend its workings, the results can often be worth the effort!
The child works through a series of targets, correcting all articulation errors in each one. After each target has been presented, they must repeat it back with perfect articulation before moving on to the next one.
When the therapist said “spee,” the child responded with “spy.” They repeated the word again to give the correct response: “spy.” In this way, children practice their correct articulation and the therapist can monitor their progress in this area.