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10 Surprising Things A Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist Wants You To Know

By Speech Therapist, Jodi Knight, MS, CCC-SLP

  1. We don’t just treat lisps. Speech therapists treat many conditions in people of all ages, from infants to geriatrics. We treat brain injuries, neurological disorders, feeding/swallowing problems, voice, genetic disorders, speech, stuttering, cognition, social skills, and language, reading and writing disorders.
  2. Language does not mean English, French, or Italian. For our purposes it refers to receiving and expressing communication. The goal of our treating language disorders is to improve one’s understanding of words and how they use words to communicate.
  3. Don’t wait and see. Parents are often told to just “wait and see” if your child will start talking or their speech will improve. If you have concerns, it is never too early to contact a speech therapist. Communication begins at birth, and each stage is essential to success in the next one! Early intervention is the most important thing we can do for a child who has difficulty communicating.
  4. Trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone, and if you have concerns, they need to be addressed. We have all heard well-meaning friends, family, and various professionals tell us not to worry, but they are not likely experts in communication disorders. Trust yourself, and never stop yourself from advocating for your child. You have nothing to lose by having your child evaluated by a professional, yet you have everything to gain if therapy is recommended.
  5. There is a purpose to everything we do in therapy. Speech and language therapy seems like a playdate to adults, but children learn through play. Flashcards and worksheets are not the most effective way to teach small children. It may look like we are just playing, but we are always playing with purpose. A speech therapist is an expert in language development and has specific reasons for every play activity.
  6. It takes time.Rome wasn’t built in a day. A typical 18-month-old child has a vocabulary of 20-50 words and is putting two words together at about age two. If your child is two and is not talking yet, we have to start at the stage they are in, not where they should be. It will take time to build a vocabulary before they will be speaking in sentences.
  7. Do your homework. A child spends one to two hours a week in speech therapy. The rest of the time they are with parents, caregivers, and family. Parents and caregivers are the first and best model for the child. Use your time wisely and make practice a part of every day. Playing, reading books or just talking about your child’s day are speech and language activities.
  8. No two kids are the same. I’ve had parents say, “Well my sister didn’t talk until she was five, and then she spoke in full sentences. Maybe my kid will be like her.” It may seem that two children have the same issues, but no two cases are the same. Two children can have trouble producing the “s” sound but one has an articulation disorder while the other has a phonological disorder. Their speech may sound the same, but the underlying problems are treated very differently.
  9. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many products and companies make promises to reverse, repair, train, and fix your child’s speech and language. A speech therapist is highly trained in evaluating, diagnosing and treating speech and language disorders with evidence-based treatment methods (those proven to work). It is not wise to research methods and attempt them yourself. If you have the wrong diagnosis and treatment, it is at best not helpful. It also could make things worse. If you have questions about a specific method or tool that you have researched and think it is worthwhile, we can talk about it, and look at options together.
  10. We are here to help. As a speech therapist, it is my job to help children communicate with their loved ones. We are always eager to discuss your concerns. We want to meet the needs of your child and your family.

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