1. What is speech and language therapy and why is it important?

Speech and language therapy is a clinical program aimed at improving speech and language skills and oral motor abilities. Proper communication skills gives one the ability to express himself and interact with others appropriately which is of utmost importance throughout one’s life. Speech therapy can provide your child with skills that will enable him/her to acquire a greater ability to use and understand language, to communicate with others and to express himself or herself to the greatest extent possible.

2. Who provides speech and language therapy?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), often informally known as speech therapists, are professionals educated in the study of human communication, its development, and its disorders. They hold at least a master's degree and state certification/licensure in the field, and a certificate of clinical competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

3. What does an SLPs job entail?

Through formal and informal testing SLPs assess and evaluate speech, language, cognitive-communication, and oral/feeding/swallowing skills to identify types of communication problems (articulation; fluency; voice; receptive and expressive language disorders, etc.). They can then determine and implement the most applicable and conducive method of treatment.

4. Who are candidates to receive speech and language therapy?

Individuals with many conditions, including cerebral palsy, autism, hearing loss, developmental delays, chronic hoarseness, motor planning disorders, feeding and swallowing disorders, TBIs and other disorders may receive speech and language therapy.

5. How do I know if my child qualifies for speech and language therapy?

Your child may be entitled to an evaluation to determine if he/she requires speech and language therapy. Please see below for more information on evaluations.

6. Why get evaluated?

If you, your pediatrician, or your child’s teacher suspect that your child has a communication delay, an early evaluation is crucial to enable your child to receive the help he/she needs. A child has a critical learning period between birth and three years of age, therefore it is vital to start necessary therapy services while the child is young and his/her brain is maturing and learning happens rapidly.

7. Does this mean that once my child is older there is no point in therapy?

No! However, children enrolled in therapy early (before the age of 5) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. This does not mean that older children can't make progress in therapy; they just may progress at a slower rate because they have often learned patterns that need to be changed.

8. Is my child developing speech and language skills appropriately and at a normal rate?

Knowing what is "typical" and developmentally appropriate for your child’s age can help you decide if you should be concerned. Speak to one of our professionals to help you determine if there is an issue that requires intervention. Click here to learn more about developmental norms.

9. What are the warning signs of a communication disorder in my young child?

If your child has a history of other developmental delays it may indicate possible delays in communication.
Please see developmental norms link for a more detailed list.

10. What ages do you evaluate and treat?

Our Speech-Language Pathologists work with children from infancy through adolescence. If you are concerned about your child's communication skills, please contact us  to find out if your child should be seen for a communication evaluation. The early years of your child's life are of utmost importance in ensuring appropriate social skills, emotional growth, and intelligence!

11. What is a receptive language disorder?

Receptive language includes the skills involved in understanding language. Receptive language disorders are commonly perceived as difficulty in the ability to attend to, process, comprehend, and/or retain spoken language.

12. Is my child showing signs of a receptive language disorder?

Some early signs and symptoms of a receptive language disorder include:

  • Difficulty attending to spoken language
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty with answering questions appropriately
  • High activity level
  • Inappropriate and/or off topic responses to questions
  • Repeating back words or phrases either immediately or at a later time (echolalia)
  • Use of jargon (made up words) while talking

13. What is an expressive language disorder?

Expressive language includes the skills involved in communicating one's thoughts and/or feelings to others. An expressive language disorder involves difficulty with verbal expression.

14. Is my child showing signs of an expressive language disorder?

Some signs and symptoms of an expressive language disorder include:

  • Difficulty organizing sentences that can be easily understood by others
  • Limited vocabulary
  • Omitting word endings and difficulty acquiring forms such as plurals, past tense verbs, complex verb forms, or other grammar forms
  • Relying on non-verbal or limited means of communication
  • Repetition of words or syllables
  • Substituting one word for another or misnaming items
  • Word retrieval difficulties

15. What is an articulation disorder?

Articulation is the production of speech sounds (phonemes). An articulation disorder is when a child does not produce speech sounds correctly. It is important to recognize that children develop the varying speech sound at different ages based on the difficulty of the production. Mastering the full set of speech sounds may take place over several years. Most speech sounds should be acquired by the age of 8.

16. What is a phonological disorder?

Phonology refers to the speech sound system of language. A phonological disorder is when a child is not using speech sound patterns appropriately. Generally, a phonological disorder occurs when a child misarticulates numerous phonemes (sounds). This can include distortions, changes, and omissions of sounds within a word.

17. What are some signs of an articulation/phonological disorder in my child?

Signs of a possible articulation/phonological disorder in a preschool child may include:

  • Child is difficult to understand
  • Child omits sounds from a word (initial, medial, and/or final sounds)
  • Drooling, feeding concerns
  • Child substitutes consonants i.e. /to/ for /shoe/
  • Little use of continuing consonants such as /w, s, n, f/
  • Limited variety of speech sounds
  • Child portrays asymmetrical tongue or jaw movement
  • Child place tongue between teeth for many sounds

Signs of an articulation/phonological disorder in a school age child may include:

  • Omissions and/or substitutions of speech sounds
  • Difficulty with consonant blends i.e. /lue/ for /blue/
  • Frontal and/or lateral lisps
  • Difficulty producing consonant /s, r, l, th/.

18. How can I help improve my child's pronunciation at home?

  • When conversing, speak clearly and at a slow conversational rate.
  • Know which sounds are expected to be pronounced correctly at your child's age - encourage only the speech sounds which are appropriate.
  • Model correct pronunciation at natural times during the day. However, it is advised not to correct your child. For example, if your child says, " I want a tootie", you could respond, "Here’s a cookie". You may want to emphasize the target sound (/k/) slightly.
  • Play sounds games if your child is interested. This will increase his overall awareness and discrimination of sounds.
  • Communicate with your child. Tell your child when you don't understand what he/she has said. Let him/her know that you will listen and try to understand and that you know it must be frustrating for him/her not to be understood. Have her gesture or show you what he/she is talking about if needed.

19. Is my child's "stuttering" normal?

Non-fluent speech, commonly called stuttering, is typical and may be considered developmentally appropriate between the ages of two and six years. Often during this period parents and therapists may choose to use a “wait and see” approach. However, a speech-language evaluation may be in order if your child exhibits any other speech and language difficulties or was a late talker. Additionally, if stuttering runs in the family it is a red flag and a professional should be consulted. Furthermore, any child who is demonstrating any "struggle behaviors" (e.g., facial/body tension, breathing disruptions, blocks, grimacing, and/or facial distortions) during speech should be referred to a speech-language pathologist immediately.

20. Where can I find out more information regarding communication disorders?

Here are some helpful links:

21. Is it important for me to be involved in my child’s therapy?

Speech-language experts agree that parental involvement is crucial to the success of a child's progress in speech and/or language therapy. Parents are an extremely important part of their child's therapy program and can help determine whether it is a success. It’s been noted that children who complete the program quickest and with the longest-lasting results are those whose parents have been involved. The process of overcoming a speech or language disorder can take some time and effort, so it's important that all family members be patient and understanding with the child.

22. How Long Will my Child Need Speech Therapy?

The length of therapy depends on the severity of the problem and the rate of progress made in the therapy sessions and during reinforcement at home and in the community.

23. Will my Insurance Cover speech therapy?

Speech therapy may be covered as part of your child’s early intervention plan or as part of other education plans. Up to 50% of insurance plans do not cover speech therapy, it is critical that you check directly with your insurance company to determine what your plans benefits are for speech therapy and if there is any “fine print” in the plan. For example, some plans only cover speech therapy for birth defect or brain injury and not for a developmental disability.

24. Does UpWords Therapy take insurance?

Yes. We currently accept Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare. Additional out of network plans are also accepted.

25. Does UpWords therapy take private clients?