Speech-Language Pathologists treat a number of different communication-related disorders and delays. Their services range the lifespan from feeding as an infant to memory and language therapy as an adult. Therapy is generally broken down into 2 categories:
- Articulation and Phonology (difficulty pronouncing sounds)
- Motor Planning/Apraxia
- Fluency (stuttering and cluttering)
- Voice (pitch, volume, quality of voice)
- Dysphasia (swallowing/oral feeding)
- Receptive Language (comprehension)
- Expressive Language (speaking)
- Pragmatic (social skills)
Speech is defined as the ability to produce and combine vowels and consonants. Evaluating "speech" skills allow the therapist to identify if a child has a delay or disorder. Speech difficulties may be caused by: hearing loss, cleft lip or palate, cerebral palsy, ankyglossisia (tongue-tied), apraxia, and dysarthria. However, many children can have a speech sound disorder of no known cause. In both cases the therapist will evaluate the child’s speech skills and perform a comprehensive oral-motor facial examination. Speech only evaluations are typically shorter in nature.
Language is the meaning aspect of communication. Some children have difficulty with receptive language, which is the ability to attend to, process and comprehend spoken words. Others may have trouble with expressive language, and are unable to name items, or put words together to formulate their thoughts using age-appropriate grammatical skills. Finally, some children have difficulty with social/pragmatic communication, which is the ability to relate to others appropriately through the use of language (hold conversations, understand humor, ask questions, etc). Language evaluations assess comprehension, expression, and pragmatic use and are typically longer. Language disorders commonly accompany other Syndromes, Disorders, and Diseases. However, they can occur by themselves.
It is not uncommon for children have trouble with both speech and language.