What is Paediatric Speech Pathology?
A speech pathologist may work with children for a number of reasons across different ages. The different diagnoses can be divided into a few different categories. These include:
Speech refers to the sounds that are produced by the jaw, lips, tongue and palate which make up the words that we say. Children that see a speech pathologist due to difficulties with Speech sounds may have a speech sound disorder due to an ear infection or difficulties placing the tongue in a particular position to produce sounds. They may also have a motor planning or coordination disorder such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech or have weak motor ability such as children with low muscle tone.
Language refers to our vocabulary and formation of the sentences and stories we tell as well as the understanding of these sentence and story structures. Individuals that are treated by a speech pathologist for language difficulties may include children that have a specific language impairment. They may have difficulty with concepts and processing of certain words and phrase or have difficulty stringing a grammatical sentence together. Literacy is also a component of language that is treated by a speech pathologist which includes decoding, spelling, reading comprehension and story writing.
Fluency refers to the speed and pace at which we speak. Children that visit a speech pathologist for fluency problems include preschool and school aged children that stutter or clutter their words and children that speak too fast or slow and have difficulties pacing themselves when they speak.
Voice refers to the quality of the sound being produces by the vocal folds. A Speech pathologist may see someone with a voice disorders due to vocal fold palsy or vocal nodules which can cause voice hoarseness or breathiness.
Swallowing refers to the ingestion of food and fluids either orally through the mouth or via a tube such as a Nasogastric (NG) tube, Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube or Percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ) tube inserted in various parts of the body. A speech pathologist may be involved in investigating the case of swallowing difficulties (Dysphagia) in children that have structural abnormalities in the head and neck, especially children with developmental syndromes and disorders. They may be seen for diet and feeding modifications if their muscle function is not adequate to tolerate a regular full diet.
Alternative communication refers to other methods of communicating aside from verbal speech. This can include sign language (e.g. KWS), communication boards, speech generating devices and Picture Exchange Systems (e.g. PECS). Speech Pathologists often see children that are non-verbal due to Autism, Cerebral Palsy or Childhood Apraxia of Speech due to a developmental disorder. Each individual is assessed and fitted with the appropriate device to allow them to communicate which may either be permanent or temporary while learning to speak verbally.
For more information about paediatric speech pathology, make an appointment with our Speech Pathologist. Contact us today.