Articulation and Phonological Challenges
The ability to speak intelligibly is crucial to socialization, academic development and self-confidence. As speech is the most complex act of movement that humans engage in on a daily basis, it is not surprising that many children struggle to develop perfectly articulated speech.
We start with an evaluation to determine whether a speech challenge stems from the child making a habit out of placing the tongue in the wrong place within the mouth or if it is the result of an oral muscle or dental problems. We also look at whether the inaccurate speech is the result of patterns of speaking such as leaving out the last consonant in a word (e.g. “cah” for “cat”) or simplifying sounds (e.g. “poon” for “spoon”). From this, we develop a comprehensive treatment that utilizes the latest in technology, such as Speech Buddies ®. We also provide ample instruction during sessions to help families follow up on training in the home environment.
Language Development Challenges
A language challenge or disorder is characterized by a difficulty in comprehending spoken language and/or in piecing together the words we want to use in order to express what we are thinking. Language challenges in children often appear relatively early in life so it is important to intervene when children are young.
A language disorder can affect how children socialize and can interfere with early academic development. Language disorders may also be associated with other conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and learning differences.
If you are concerned your child may have difficulty understanding spoken language or adequately expressing himself or herself, an evaluation may be indicated.
Dyslexia is a phonologically based language disorder, which has neurobiological causes. Symptoms of Dyslexia vary by age of identification but include impaired encoding and decoding skills, poor phonological awareness skills, difficulty with sight word recognition, impaired working memory and reading comprehension. Additionally, Dyslexia may result in impaired vocabulary growth, difficulty accessing age appropriate curriculum, and poor written expression.
Dyslexia can be identified via a comprehensive assessment that looks at the following: oral reading skills, encoding and decoding skills, phonological awareness, working memory, executive functioning, and auditory processing. If your child is exhibiting signs of Dyslexia, an evaluation may be warranted.
Stuttering and Fluency Challenges
Stuttering and fluency disorders are an interruption in the normal flow of speech. Stuttering is a physiological issue but can be affected by stress and other social and emotional factors. While mild and fleeting stuttering is quite common and may not be a cause for concern, if you believe your child’s stuttering or speech fluency is an issue, an evaluation may be a good idea.
Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Issues
Our goal is for each child to enjoy eating and drinking age-appropriate foods within their medical and safety limitations. To achieve this, our clinical team provides innovative, research-based therapy. We create and implement child specific therapy based on the diagnosis, special needs and dietary restrictions.
Symptoms of feeding and swallowing difficulties include mouth stuffing and poor control of food, fear and anxiety related to food, sensitivity to texture, smell or taste, prolonged meal time and tantrums, pocketing foods in the mouth, rejecting previously enjoyed foods, delayed self-feeding skills. A child might also exhibit coughing or vomiting, or a “wet” voice quality during or after eating, leakage of food from the mouth, a difficulty sucking or chewing. All of these symptoms may affect a child’s ability to grow and thrive.
Our approach is family-centered. We support, educate and counsel patients, families and caregivers. We include caregivers in each therapy session and encourage their participation. Our therapists are trained to analyze and interpret clinical and instrumental information related to diagnosing and treating feeding and swallowing problems. We understand various medical conditions and their relationships to swallowing difficulties. We use a team approach, including our speech-language pathologists, the patient, family and caregivers, physicians and other professionals as appropriate.
To accurately diagnose and treat feeding and swallowing disorders, we use several types of evaluations, including:
- Clinical Evaluations – Performed by our speech-language pathologists in our clinic.
- Modified Barium Swallow Study – Performed by a radiologist and speech-language pathologist outside of our clinic.
- Orofacial Myology Assessment - including objective frenum measurement to help decide if clipping may be necessary, lip strength and other oral motor muscle functions.
- Evaluation via an IOPI Iowa Oral Performance Instrument -objectively measures tongue lip and cheek strength
Our therapists have training in a variety of treatments for feeding and swallowing disorders, including sensory integration, food chaining, modified bottle and nipple changes, diet and texture modifications, pre-feeding skills development, body and postural adjustments, G-tube weaning, oral-motor and oral-placement therapy for swallowing, aspiration precautions, saliva management, and orofacial myology treatment.