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What Speech-Language Therapists Do

If you or your doctor suspect that your child has a problem, early evaluation by a speech-language therapist is crucial. Of course, if there turns out to be no problem after all, an evaluation can ease your fears.

In conducting an evaluation, a speech-language therapist will look at a child's speech and language skills within the context of total development. Besides observing your child, they will carry out some standard tests, and look for milestones in speech and language development.

They will also assess:

  • what your child understands (called receptive language)
  • what your child can say (called expressive language)
  • if your child is attempting to communicate in other ways, such as pointing, head shaking, gesturing, etc.
  • sound development and clarity of speech.
  • your child's oral-motor status (how a child's mouth, tongue, palate, etc., work together for speech as well as eating and swallowing)

If the speech-language therapist finds that your child needs speech therapy, your involvement will be very important. You can observe therapy sessions and learn to participate in the process. The speech therapist will show you how you can work with your child at home to improve speech and language skills.

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