Speech Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
autism spectrum disorder
WHEN SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT MY CHILD'S COMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT?
ANSWER: This depends on what you are noticing in the home. A young child (9 months) who is not responding to sounds, alerting to his/her name, showing comprehension of simple words, or pointing to call attention to interesting objects, may be showing early signs of a hearing loss or language disorder. Other general guidelines:
- First Words by 12-15 months
- Frequent Two-Word Combinations Heard by 21-24 months
- Frequent Three-Word Combinations Heard by 36 months
- Intelligible speech in conversation 90% of the time by age 4 years
- Grammatically complete sentences most of the time by kindergarten age
MY TWO-YEAR-OLD CHILD APPEARS DELAYED IN SPEECH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, BUT MY PEDIATRICIAN SAYS HE/SHE IS PROBABLY JUST A LATE TALKER AND WILL TALK WITHIN THE YEAR. SHOULD I DO SOMETHING NOW, OR WAIT?
ANSWER: While it is true children show some variation in when they achieve early language milestones, it also is true that a skilled speech-language pathologist can usually identify children who are more at risk for persistent delays, or who are showing signs of more deviant speech language development (sometimes associated with other developmental disorders, such as autism). The earlier these children are identified, the sooner they can take advantage of intensive early intervention programs, often at no cost to families. Thus, it is better to rule out a more serious problem at a young age.
MY CHILD HAS A HISTORY OF FREQUENT EAR INFECTIONS. COULD THIS AFFECT HIS/HER SPEECH OR LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT?
ANSWER: Possibly. While there is no direct causal link between chronic ear infections and speech/language delay, children are generally thought to be more at risk for developing communication impairments with this medical history, and should be closely monitored.
WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME TO HELP MY YOUNGER CHILD'S SPEECH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT?
ANSWER: Generally speaking, understanding your child’s current communication level (preverbal, single word communicator, phrase or sentence level communicator, etc.) is very important in terms of what to model at home. Try not to overuse questions to get your young child to talk, but rather model comments about events as they are unfolding. Try to avoid rapid and lengthy speaking turns, and encourage turn-taking. Praise your child’s efforts to communicate using all possible means: gestures, pointing, gaze, and verbal attempts.
HOW LONG WILL SPEECH THERAPY TAKE BEFORE MY CHILD CATCHES UP TO HIS OR HER PEERS?
ANSWER: This depends on many factors such as: severity of the disorder, student cooperation, motivation, and readiness to learn. Family involvement in implementing home practice is another significant factor. In general, children with receptive language problems (difficulty understanding language) tend to require longer courses of treatment, as do children with underlying neurocognitive impairments such as autism.
DO YOU HAVE A WAITING LIST? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN APPOINTMENT FOR SPEECH THERAPY?
ANSWER: We often experience a high demand for after-school appointments, thus many times have a waiting list for 3-5 pm appointments. For those needing consultations or evaluations, or who can schedule morning/early afternoon therapy sessions, it is usually possible to be scheduled sooner.
HOW LONG ARE SPEECH THERAPY SESSIONS?
ANSWER: Most children are seen in our clinic one to two times per week, whether or not he/she is receiving school-based therapy, depending on the severity of the disorder, or what type of intervention program is recommended. More intensive schedules are occasionally implemented as needed.
CAN I OBSERVE SPEECH THERAPY SESSIONS?
ANSWER: Absolutely. Parents are encouraged to observe therapy sessions, either periodically by accompanying children into the therapy room at least briefly, or by observing through closed circuit video monitoring, if available. Many children perform best when working separately from parents. For those children, parents may be included in treatment sessions for the last 5-10 minutes in order to understand current objectives and home program ideas.