Speech-Language Pathologists evaluate and treat children with delays or disorders that can affect speech, language, voice, fluency, and dysphagia (feeding).
Is your child difficult to understand? Do you need help learning where your child falls within expected developmental milestones? Does he or she have a hoarse or raspy voice? Does he or she stutter? Does your child have difficulty with eating? If you have answered “Yes” to any of these questions, we are here to help you!
Speech-Language Pathologists can treat children of all ages with a wide variety of diagnoses:
What is a Language Disorder?
Language is composed of a variety of components. Vocabulary, which
is basically words and their underlying meanings, is combined to create
utterances according to rules of syntax and grammar. In addition, the
child is learning the social customs of her language. Language
develops according to a timetable. Children whose language development
lags significantly from the timetable may be considered developmentally
delayed. A child with a language disorder may not use language at the
same level as their typically-developing peers.
What is a Speech Disorder?
The acquisition of speech occurs along a standard developmental timeline, and you can predict what developmental features should be present at certain ages. For example, by the time a child is 48 months old, she should be understood by others. Their articulation skills involve the production of phonemes (sounds). Common errors in articulation include substitution of sounds, omission of sounds, and distortion of sounds. Children who demonstrate feeding difficulties may suffer from oral motor weakness, which can also lead to articulation errors. A general weakness of the lips, tongue, jaw, or cheeks may cause difficulty with eating, drinking, speech, and/or facial expression.
What is a Voice Disorder?
Voice disorders are classified as problems with voice quality, loudness, pitch, and resonance. The major cause of voice disorders in children is vocal abuse (using the vocal cords incorrectly and in a damaging way). The speech-language pathologist can assist the child by identifying situations that promote poor vocal habits along with teaching proper vocal hygiene.
What is a Fluency Disorder?
Stuttering is a disorder of speech that affects the fluent production of sounds, words, phrases, and sentences. Types of dysfluencies include part-word repetitions (“b-b-b-ball”), prolongations (“m___an”), broken words (“hap-pen”), whole word repetitions (“My My My”), phrase repetitions (“I need some, I need some food”), and interjections (“hum”). In addition, secondary behaviors may occur. These behaviors are particular to the individual and develop as the individual tries to cope with his stuttering. Occasionally children experience a period of dysfluency between the ages of three and six. These are normal dysfluencies and can be characterized by interjections, whole word repetitions, and phrase repetitions.
What is a Feeding Disorder?
A feeding disorder is present when a child has difficulty gathering food and preparing to suck, chew or swallow the food. Feeding disorders may occur for a variety of reasons, and may look very different in each child. Eating involves all of our senses (smell, touch, sight, taste, and sound) and many muscles that must be strong and coordinated. Many times feeding disorders occur when a child’s sensory system or motor system is impaired. A child with a feeding disorder may have difficulty getting food in his/her mouth, moving food around to suck/ chew food, initiating the swallow of the food, or gag frequently on food. This child typically exhibits a strong aversion to new foods and has a very limited diet.
What is a Swallowing Disorder?
A swallowing disorder is present when a child has difficulty with any of the three stages of swallowing. The oral phase involves preparing the food or liquid to be swallowed and includes sucking, chewing and moving in the mouth. The pharyngeal phase involves initiating the swallow, moving food down throat, and closing off airway to protect food from entering lungs. The esophageal phase involves moving the food down the esophagus and into the stomach. Coordinating sucking, swallowing and breathing is essential in infant feeding and establishes early feeding patterns for the toddler.
Signs/Symptoms of a Feeding and/or Swallowing Disorder:
Signs in young children include: irritability during or refusal of feeding, arching of back or stiffing of body during feedings, difficulty coordinating sucking and breathing, changes in breathing patterns and heart rate during feedings, long feeding times, spitting up during and after meals, stuffiness during/after meals, coughing and gagging, difficulty chewing, stuffing and/or pocketing food, difficulty keeping food in mouth during meals, refusal of foods, negative behaviors around mealtime, drooling, changes in voice during and after eating, recurring respiratory infections/pneumonia, and poor weight gain/ growth. Conditions that can affect feeding include: cardiac, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genetic, craniofacial, neurological and metabolic disorders, cerebral palsy, autism, low muscle tone, oral motor, and sensory dysfunction.
Picky Eater vs. Problem Feeder
Most toddlers go through a period of “picky eating” when they refuse some or most foods. Picky eaters will gradually add foods back to their diets. Picky eaters will tolerate new foods on their plate or even tasting a new food, even though they may spit it out. Picky eaters respond to typical strategies of providing three meals a day with two snacks and limiting grazing during the day. Problem feeders are those children whose eating habits limit their ability to develop because their nutrition is compromised. Problem feeders develop patterns of preferred foods and exhibit a strong fear of trying new foods. Problem feeders will go on food jags when they only accept one or two foods, then they refuse those foods. Problem feeders often also exhibit sensory-motor deficits that negatively impact their ability to tolerate a diverse, balanced diet.
Follow the link below to view expected speech, language, and feeding milestones for your child's age/level of development:
Address: 225 Wes Park Drive
Perry, GA 31069
Phone: (478) 987-1610
Fax: (973) 965-4580
Monday - Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM