Paediatric speech-language pathology is the area of communication sciences and disorders focused on developing, maintaining, and restoring functional oral communication abilities in children. Speech pathologists are concerned with the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of communication issues that affect a child’s ability to process and make sense of language. These difficulties can include expressive language (how we use words to communicate our thoughts), receptive language (understanding what others say), articulation (pronouncing sounds), voice (quality of sound produced by the vocal folds), fluency (smoothness or flow of speech) and feeding/swallowing disorders.
Speech pathologists may work with children who have conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, apraxia, developmental delays, stuttering, swallowing difficulties due to cerebral palsy or other neurological problems, cleft lip or palate, Down syndrome, hearing loss or auditory processing disorder. Many children have complex needs due to multiple diagnoses. The role of speech pathology is often to help bridge the gap between medical care and educational intervention so that children can be supported at home, at school and in the community.
Paediatric speech therapy involves a paediatric speech therapist treating children with communication difficulties. The goal is to help the child communicate more effectively with others. Many children have difficulty with their speech articulation (how sounds are made), language (how words are used and understood), or social skills (conversation). Some children have difficulty with all three areas.
Paediatric speech therapy aims to improve the child’s ability to communicate in all areas. The child may be taught how to make sounds correctly, how to use language in the right way, and how to socialise more effectively.
Paediatric speech therapy treats communication and swallowing disorders in children. Speech therapists, also called speech-language pathologists, work with kids who have difficulties in any of the following areas:
- Receptive language (understanding words)
- Expressive language (using words to share thoughts)
- Speech (pronouncing sounds and words)
- Voice (quality of vocal sounds)
- Fluency (rhythm of speech)
- Cognitive communication (memory, problem solving, organization)
For children and teenagers, communication is an essential part of the learning process. Clear communication is the basis for strengthening relationships, building self-esteem, and establishing independence. However, if a child or teenager has difficulty with speech or language development, their ability to communicate can be impacted.
There are various different types of paediatric speech therapy treatments which can be used to help children with specific speech, language and communication difficulties. Paediatric speech therapists typically assess children on an individual basis and will then create specific treatment plans for each child depending on their needs. The type of treatment used will depend on what the child’s needs are, the severity of their condition, how old they are and other factors that can affect their condition.
Paediatric speech therapy is the use of a variety of evidence-based techniques to help children with communication disorders. A paediatric speech therapist typically works with children who have developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or children who have suffered injury or illness, such as a stroke.
Paediatric speech therapists work with children between the ages of 0 and 18, and many also work with newborn babies. The most common form of paediatric speech therapy is focused on helping children master language skills, but there are many other areas that can be addressed in this type of therapy. This includes oral motor skills (e.g., moving the tongue and lips for pronunciation), fluency skills (e.g., stuttering), voice skills (e.g., hoarseness or breathiness), and swallowing skills (e.g., choking while eating). A paediatric speech therapist may also work with a child’s family to help them understand their child’s condition more fully and provide them strategies for working with them at home. This can include activities that parents can do with their child before or after school, or even during school breaks.