Children - Optima Speech Therapy

Speech and Language Therapy for Your Child

We suggest you seek our help if you notice your child:

– Finds some words difficult to say
– Struggles with particular sounds
– Uses shorter sentences than other children their age
– Gets ‘stuck’ on words
– Is not using words
– Has difficulty following instructions

Speech and Language Therapy for Your Child

We suggest you seek our help if you notice your child:

– Finds some words difficult to say
– Struggles with particular sounds
– Uses shorter sentences than other children their age
– Gets ‘stuck’ on words
– Is not using words
– Has difficulty following instructions

Who can Optima Speech Therapy help?

Children who are experiencing difficulties with:

– Speech production (articulation)
– Language development (understanding and using language)
– Developmental delay
– Attention and listening

Who can Optima Speech Therapy help?

Children who are experiencing difficulties with:

– Speech production (articulation)
– Language development (understanding and using language)
– Developmental delay
– Attention and listening

What therapy does Optima Speech Therapy offer?

Home Programmes designed by me as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist.

All the programmes are designed to be fun for the kids and the grownups! Activities and games are used to keep things interesting and encourage your child to engage.

Speech Sound (Articulation) Therapy
Age-appropriate articulation skills are stimulated through targeted exercises using games, pictures, and objects. Your child is encouraged to place their tongue and lips in the correct position for the speech sound. We then move the speech sound on into syllables, then into words and finally into sentences.

Language Therapy
Age-appropriate langue development is targeted through activities using objects, pictures, and games. Specific therapy techniques will be used during the sessions such as modelling and recasting. Modelling is when you give an example of the correct speech sound. Recasting is when you increase the frequency of repeating the correct speech sound. Repetition is then used to build and cement their new language skills through fun activities.

What happens when you order a Speech and Language Therapy home programme?

I want to personalise your child’s Home Programme to their specific needs. I will ask you a few questions about your child when you place your order for assessment (Step 1). I will use this information when building your child’s unique Home Programme. We will look at all areas of speech and language development to find out which area your child needs help with. To help you decide if your child needs support click on the green box below.

You will also see what you do not need to worry about!

Get started

with your child’s personalised Home Programme

Speech Disorders

A Speech Disorder is a term used to describe when a child has difficulty pronouncing or forming all the sounds needed to create a word or sentence, but which is not linked with another condition or hearing loss. The child has average levels of intelligence and yet they have difficulties with speech sounds and can be hard to understand.

Speech Disorders are different from Language Disorders (see below). The two disorders can occur together or separately. Children with a disorder of their speech can have good language skills. They can form sentences in the right way and understand words and sentences given to them.

The different types of Speech Disorder can be divided into articulation, fluency and voice disorders, and are described in more detail below.

24% of 11-17-year-old children are estimated to have a Speech Sound Disorder.

A Speech Sound Disorder is a difficulty with the understanding, production or representation of the sounds of speech. This includes the rules of sounds in a language e.g. in English ‘ST’, as in ‘stable’, is used while we would not say ‘QZ’. Speech Disorders are also known as Articulation Disorders or Phonological Disorders.

Most young children make mistakes when they are learning to talk, either missing sounds or using a different sound. These errors are completely normal for a young child and only become an issue if the mistakes continue. Some of the sounds we use in English are easier for children to learn than others. That is why we can say sounds like ‘p’ and ‘d’ when we are very young. Other sounds and sound combinations, known as clusters, are more difficult and we only hear these from older children like ‘PL’ and ‘SPR’. Look at this chart here (link to development milestones page) to see a guide for sound development relative to age.

How do we know when to worry?

Children learn speech by listening and copying what they hear. One of the first things to be considered is your child’s hearing. Can they hear properly? If they can’t then they will not have heard the sounds to be able to learn them. It is then likely that the speech sound errors are secondary to hearing impairment e.g. if they have been prone to ear infections.

Let’s have a look at an example. A 2-year-old and a 7-year-old describe the colour of a sunflower as “lellow” instead of yellow. We do not expect the sound ‘y’ to develop until the age of 3 or 4, so it is ok for the 2-year-old to say “lellow”. Whereas most 7-year-olds should be using the ‘y’ sound. If it is a constant error, the child may need some help with this sound.

There are over 10 types of Speech Sound Disorder error. Examples of other common errors are when “gar” is said instead of “car”, when “ta” is said instead of “tap”, or when “ephant” is said instead of “elephant”.

You can use this checklist (link to speech sound development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

Estimated to occur in 0.1% – 0.2% of children.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech means that the child knows what they want to say but the message from the brain has trouble getting to the mouth muscles to make them form the sounds and words. The motor planning of other muscles in the body may also be affected.

You may notice they have difficulty saying words, problems when copying sounds or movements or a different accent. Children will learn speech sounds in a different order and their speech will not make much improvement over time.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is also known as Verbal Dyspraxia and Developmental Dyspraxia. This is a relatively rare disorder and takes a lot of work to make improvements.

In pre-school children 8.5% – 11% have a stutter between the age of 3 and 4-years-old, with twice as many boys as girls having symptoms.

Stammering also known as Stuttering is a speech disorder where there are breaks in the flow of speech so speech does not flow. Stammering and stuttering tends to run in families and is more common in boys. It can cause stress and anxiety which can make the problem worse, but it is not a symptom of stress or anxiety. Stammering and stuttering may start suddenly or build over time. It often starts in early childhood but can develop later on and children who start after 3.5-years-old are more likely to continue stammering.

You may notice different types of interruptions such as repetitions, prolongations and hesitations. Below are some examples of stammering and stuttering.

Type of StutterDescriptionExample
Whole phrase repetitionWhen a phrase of more than one word is repeated. “Where is…where is…where is the tiger?”
Single whole word repetitionWhen a single word is repeated.“Where…where…where is the tiger?”
Single sounds repetitionsWhen a single sound is repeated, usually at the beginning of a word.“Where is the t-t-t-tiger?”
Syllables repetitionsWhen a syllable is repeated, usually at the beginning of a word.“Where is the ti-ti-ti-tiger?”
ProlongationWhen a sound is stretched, usually at the beginning or in the middle or a word.“Where is the ti—-ger?”
BlocksWhen no sound is produced when speech is attemptedOpens mouth to speak “……” may take a breath “.….”, “……Where is the tiger?”
HesitationsWhen a long pause is left during speech.“Where is………………the tiger?”
Interjections“Um where um is um the tiger?”“Um where um is um the tiger?”
RevisionsWhen something is said and then changed. “Who…what…Where is the tiger?”

Experts estimate 1 in 3 children with a stutter also clutter.

Cluttering is a speech disorder where there is an irregular or rapid rate of speech often in combination with other speech sound disorders, language disorders and attention deficits. You may notice your child’s speech is jerky, too fast, has irregular pauses and speeds up or slows down with no reason.

Voice disorder, known as Dysphonia, is when the quality of the child’s voice is noticeably different and may cause a difficulty speaking. Voice disorders are fairly common with children. Hoarseness is particularly common in children and is usually related to how the child uses their voice, it can also be due to a viral infection like a cold, or vocal nodules, cysts and polys which are non-cancerous changes to the vocal cords. Children can be affected by voice disorders for many different reasons including structural and neurological changes, overuse, stress, anxiety, and trauma. You may notice:

  • Difficulty making speech sounds
  • Changes to speech sounds made
  • High or low pitch
  • Nasal qualities
  • Altered breathing pattern
  • Loudness or quietness
  • Tension
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Some children may have speech difficulties caused by muscle weakness in the mouth, face and breathing systems. You may notice:

  • Slurred speech
  • Quiet speaking volume
  • Slow speech
  • Strained or hoarse voice
  • Breathiness
  • Swallowing problems
  • Reduced saliva control

Language Disorders

Is a term used to describe when a child has difficulty acquiring, using and understanding what others are saying, but which is not linked with another condition or hearing loss. The child has typical levels of intelligence and yet they have difficulties processing and using language.

Language Disorders are different from Speech Disorders (see above) and Developmental Language Disorders (see below). Speech and language disorders can occur together or separately. Children with a disorder of their language can have good speech skills. They can pronounce words in the right way but have difficulty processing the meaning of words and sentences given to them.

In toddlers aged 18-23-months-old 13.5% are estimated to be ‘late talkers’ (ASHA 2020).

Language Delay is when a child finds it difficult to understand and or use spoken language relative to their age. Language Delay is different from Developmental Language Disorder, but a persistent Language Delay may indicate a Developmental Language Disorder. A Language Delay may involve receptive (understanding), expressive (communicating) or both.

Most young children make mistakes when they are learning to talk, either missing words, using the wrong words or putting the right words in the wrong order. These errors are completely normal for a young child and only become an issue if the mistakes continue. Some of the words and sentence structures we use in English are easier for children to learn than others. That is why it is ok to say sentences like “I like dogs and cats”, when we are very young. But as we grow older we are expected to use more complex words and word combinations like “While I like cats, I prefer dogs because they are more interactive”. Not only is the vocabulary more advanced, but the sentence is longer, and the structure is much more complex. Look at this chart here (link to development milestones page) to see a guide to age of language development.

How do we know when to worry?
Children learn to talk by listening and copying what they hear. One of the first things to be considered is your child’s hearing. Can they hear properly? If they can’t then they will not have heard the language to be able to learn it. It is then likely that the language errors are secondary to hearing impairment e.g. if they have been prone to ear infections.

Let’s have a look at an example. A 2-year-old and a 7-year-old describe what their friend is doing as “Boy jumping” instead of “The boy is jumping”. We do not expect the use of the article ‘the’, or the use of progressive -ing from a 1-year-old but we would from a 7-year-old. If it is a constant error, the child may need some help from a Speech and Language Therapist.

You can use this checklist (link to language development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

Developmental Language Disorder affects 7.6% of children (RCSLT 2020).

In Ireland it was estimated that there are 70,000 children have a Developmental Language Disorder (IASLT 2017)

Developmental Language Disorder is when a child’s everyday life communications and learning experiences are affected by a language difficulty that is not linked with another condition or hearing loss. The child has typical levels of intelligence and yet they have difficulties processing and using language.

Developmental Language Disorder is different from a Language Delay (see above), but a persistent Language Delay may indicate a Developmental Language Disorder. A Developmental Language Disorder may involve receptive (understanding), expressive (communicating) or both.

Developmental Language Disorder is a new term for diagnoses previously known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI), Specific Speech and Language Impairment (SSLI) and Specific Speech and Language Disorders (SSLD) and has been in use internationally since May 2017 (IASLT 2017).

You can use this checklist (link to language development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

It is estimated that receptive language difficulties affect 2.6-3.6% of children (ASHA 2020).

Receptive language is when a child can accurately understand words and language by listening or reading. It involves gaining information and meaning from the environment e.g. Mum giving her child a coat means you are going out. Difficulties with receptive language may cause problems with following instructions or understanding questions.

Receptive language is important in responding correctly and communicating successfully as most activities require a good understanding of language.

You may notice:

  • Difficulties concentrating and listening to language
  • Distraction during group activities
  • Problems with following instructions
  • Requires instructions to be repeated several times
  • Repeating questions rather than answering them
  • Giving unusual answers to questions
  • Difficulty listening to and following stories
  • Talks in excess to disguise lack of understanding
  • Has disruptive behaviour
  • Trouble understanding gestures

You can use this checklist (link to language development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

It is estimated that 2.8-16% of children are affected by expressive language difficulties (ASHA 2020).

Expressive language is when a child uses word, gestures and writing to communicate a message. It involves naming objects, describing actions, using grammar and words to make a sentence, retelling stories and asking and answering questions.

Expressive language is important because is lets your child ask for what they want and need, tell you their ideas and make friends.

You many notice:

  • Difficulty naming objects
  • Uses sentences that sound immature
  • Frustration at not being understood
  • Struggles saying their thoughts and feelings
  • Use of ‘jargon’ – made up words
  • Has trouble finding the words to describe objects, places or experiences
  • Relies heavily on pointing and gesturing to communicate
  • Difficulties being understood by others
  • Jumbled sentences with word order mixed up
  • Trouble retelling a story
  • Difficulty writing paragraphs or stories *depending on child’s age

You can use this checklist (link to language development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

Global Language Difficulties means that a child has trouble with both receptive and expressive language (see above). Children who have both difficulties will experience problems with understanding and using language.

You can use this checklist (link to language development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

Other Information

In toddlers it is estimated that 7.5% are affected by a Social Communication Disorder (ASHA 2020).

Social Communication Disorder, also known as Pragmatic Communication Disorder, involves problems with verbal and non-verbal skills in social interactions, social understanding and pragmatics. Pragmatics is how we use different language depending on the social situation and varies within cultures e.g. ‘Yes I liked the project Miss’ (to the teacher) ‘Yeah the project was cool’ (to Mum).

You may notice:

  • Not using gestures like pointing
  • Not using appropriate greetings like ‘hi’ and ‘bye’
  • Problems using the appropriate type of communication to the context
  • Difficulty changing the language used for different people (child/adult) or situations (formal/informal)
  • Trouble following the rules of conversation such as taking turns
  • Difficulty understanding vague and figurative language such as ‘beating around the bush’
  • Not asking relevant questions during a conversation
  • Not contributing to conversation with related ideas
  • Difficulty repairing conversation breakdown by repeating or rephrasing for the listener
  • Trouble picking up on nonverbal signals from others

You can use this checklist (link to language development checklist) as a guide to your child’s speech sound development.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

Selective Mutism is estimated to affect 0.5%-0.8% of children (ASHA 2020).

Selective Mutism is a rare anxiety disorder which causes children to have a phobia of speaking in certain social situations. Children can speak easily and freely to siblings, parents and familiar family members but refuse to speak in public or in school for over a month. The speech phobia means the child refuses to speak rather than having a speech and or language disorder which interferes with talking. Selective Mutism can interfere with academic, social and emotional engagement.

Selective Mutism is categorised as High Profile Selective Mutism and Low Profile Selective Mutism.

High Profile Selective Mutism is when the child is completely silent in certain situations with certain people.

Low Profile Selective Mutism is when the child’s fear of disapproval is greater than the speech phobia, and the child will talk in minimal responses but will not spontaneously communicate.

In severe cases the speech phobia may cause some children to fear other vocalisations to such as laughing and coughing. You might notice reduced eye contact, facial expression and general withdrawal extending to fear of writing, gesturing and pointing.

Selective Mutism is a niche topic and more information can be found here.

Raising your child as bilingual does not cause language disorders. Bilingual children may seem to learn the languages slower that a child learning just one language and this is perfectly normal. If a child has a speech and or language difficulty they will have the same problem in both languages.

Experts estimate 5% of school-aged children are affected (NHS 2017).

Auditory Processing Disorder is a problem with how the ears and brain interconnect so that children do not process sounds and especially speech in the same way.

You may notice:

  • Child is unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises
  • Child gets upset in noisy environments
  • Child’s behaviour improves in quieter settings
  • Child’s performance improves in quieter settings
  • Child has difficulty following conversations
  • Children usually have other speech and language difficulties
  • Child has trouble following verbal instructions

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.

It is estimated that 0.9% of 3-17-year-olds have a swallowing problem (ASHA 2020).

Swallowing disorders are diagnosed as dysphagia. This means a difficulty with the process of swallowing including oral preparatory, oral transit, pharyngeal and oesophageal phases of swallow. Speech and language therapists can offer assistance with the first three phases.

Swallowing problems can be very distressing for you and your child and may lead to chest infections, aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, unintentional weight loss and other complications. These difficulties may stay the same or may get worse.

In 2019 the terms used to describe the food and drink textures used to help people with dysphagia were changed to an international standard called IDDSI (International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative).

To read more about IDDSI click here.

This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact your doctor. Your child will benefit from help as early as possible.

Mission

Empowering parents with an original, proactive and easy-to-use service for speech therapy at home.

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