At-home and community based speech-language services in the greater Battle Creek/Kalamazoo areas. Virtual services across MI, OH, PA and beyond!

Pediatric Speech Therapy

How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?

Communication is vital. It is how we interact with the world and those around us! Speech-language therapy can help children more clearly and effectively articulate their thoughts, feelings, and ideas; comprehend the language of others; and develop socially. It also contributes to their academic success and emotional well-being. Plus so much more! If you think your child could benefit from speech-language therapy, contact us! 

When should therapy start?

There is no real minimum age for speech-language therapy. Communication skills begin developing in infancy. Building strong language skills in very young children can set the foundation for strong communication and literacy skills later on. Speech-language therapy is particularly important for children who aren’t reaching age-appropriate communication milestones, or who are experiencing difficulties that affect their confidence or their communication efficacy (e.g., speech sound errors). Usually, early intervention can lead to better outcomes. Speech therapy sessions are focused on each client’s care plan, and the activities done during sessions relate to those goals. Your therapist will consistently assess your child’s response to treatment approaches and/or family support. When needed, they can make changes to your treatment plan including therapy approach frequency, duration, goals, and so on.

Pediatric Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC)

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), is a  great resource for families of children who are minimally speaking, intermittently speaking, or non-speaking. You may have seen the terms used as well, like: non-verbal or nonverbal, minimally verbal, and so on. 

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It is a broad term that includes any way of communicating other than talking. Any method that can help a person communicate counts as AAC. That includes many systems and devices, such as communication boards/books/binders, speech-generating devices (e.g., tablets), or computer apps. It also includes “no-technology” techniques such as  Signed Languages (e.g., American Sign Language or ASL), gestures and facial expressions.

Who can use an AAC device?

  • People of all ages, from little kids to older adults, use AAC! They may have limited or inconsistent speech, have difficulty producing or understanding language, or be completely nonspeaking. 
  • Some people use AAC for a period of time after surgery or a medical event, such as a stroke or brain injury. Some people use AAC long-term because of a diagnosis such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or autism.

What are the benefits of using an AAC device?

  • An AAC device is like someone’s voice box. That’s why the user should bring their AAC device with them wherever they go! AAC has several benefits: 
    • More independence 
    • Better mental health 
    • Less frustration
    • Greater participation with family and friends 
    • Increased positive social interactions 

Example treatment approach: 

  • CORE vocabulary focused interventions
  • Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) 
  • Multi-modal communication (MMC) support

Articulation, Phonology, or Speech-Sound disorders

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), is a great resource for families concerned their child may have trouble producing required speech sounds in their language(s).

  • What is a speech sound disorder?
    • Producing speech sounds correctly requires both the knowledge of a desired speech sound, as well as the ability to coordinate the jaw, tongue, and lips with breathing and vocalizing.
    • Children who can’t pronounce certain sounds or words by an expected age may have a speech sound disorder. It’s often difficult to understand someone with a speech sound disorder and, in many cases, it can affect a person’s social, academic, and professional development.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Communication

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), also known as speech therapists (STs), play a key role in an individual’s treatment plan. You might have come across words like: scripts or scripting, echoed speech, echolalia, stereotypic speech or stereotyped, and so on related to ASD. 

  • SLPs can help autistic people become better communicators and improve both their verbal and nonverbal communication skills. This can help autistic individuals form relationships with others and function better in day-to-day life while respecting their individual needs and identity as an autistic person.
  • Your speech therapist will work with you, your child, and your family to assess and evaluate your child’s communication strengths and challenges, and develop a realistic treatment plan that aligns as best it can with neuro-diversity affirming practice. 

Example treatment approach: Natural Language Acquisition (NLA) approach to Echolalia (aka Scripting)

To learn more about neurodiversity and affirming practice, check out this podcast!: Two Sides of the Spectrum

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Support

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), may be a great resource for kids who are deaf and/or hard of hearing (DHH). DHH people can have hearing aids, cochlear implants, Bone Anchored Hearing Aid Implants (BAHA), or none of these.

Depending on the specific situation, speech therapy can support communication focusing on speaking, listening, and/or overall language skills including spoken language and Signed Languages like American Sign Language and other forms of AAC

Early Intervention and Parent Coaching

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), is a great resource for families very early on due to various factors, such as:

  • Family history of speech/language concerns
  • Genetic conditions with known developmental delays (e.g., Down Syndrome, Wolf–Hirschhorn syndrome, etc.)
  • Observed maturational delay early on (generally delayed milestones)
    • When a child is around 3 years old and younger, the most effective treatments focus on training caregivers on cues and strategies they can use to bring language-building techniques into daily routines/activities with their child. These sessions largely involve parent coaching and support.
  • Example treatment approach: “Babble Boot Camp” based on research from Arizona State University (ASU)

Language Disorders

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), is a great resource for families concerned their child may have trouble producing required speech sounds in their language(s).

A language disorder is a type of communication disorder that makes it difficult to use, process, and comprehend language. You might see different names for this such as: Receptive-Expressive or Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder, Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), Specific Language Impairment (SLI), Specific Language Disorder (SLD), etc. 

  • Children with language disorders might have trouble understanding what other people are saying and expressing their own needs or feelings.
  • While many people associate language with verbal communication, language can actually take a variety of forms. It can affect our vocabulary, reading abilities, sentence structure, gestures, discourse, and written language.

Example treatment approach: Narrative-based Language intervention 

Motor-speech Disorders (problems coordinating motor movements for speech e.g., Childhood Apraxia of Speech or CAS)

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), is a great resource for families concerned their child has a lot of trouble producing required sounds and stringing words together in their language(s). These include problems coordinating motor movements for speech.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a condition where the child often has the language skills to talk, but these signals between the brain and muscles are not sent correctly. In other words, the brain knows what it wants to say, but cannot properly plan the required speech sound movements.

  • Children with apraxia are born with the condition. For children with apraxia, difficulty in planning speech movements is the hallmark of the condition. In fact, the root of the word, “praxis,” means “planned movement.”
  • As a result, people with apraxia have difficulty coordinating the mouth movements needed to turn sounds into syllables, syllables into words, and words into phrases. It is often hard for people with apraxia to communicate and form clear sounds and sentences. Most commonly, people with apraxia are described as “difficult to understand.”

Reading Readiness

Learning to read has many prerequisite skills that may be impacted by speech and language. A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), may be a great resource for families concerned with their child’s reading readiness.

  • A speech therapist is trained to support development in the following areas of reading readiness:
    • Comprehension
    • Vocabulary
    • Phonemic awareness
    • Fluency
    • Phonics

Speech/Language Delay

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist (ST), is a great resource for families concerned their child may have delayed speech or language. 

  • What is delayed speech?
    • Speech and language skills begin with the slightest cooing of an infant. As the months pass, babies eventually begin to babble, which soon progresses to one of the most joyous moments for a parent: their child’s first understandable words. A typical 2-year-old can say about 50 words and speak in two- and three-word sentences. By age 3, their vocabulary increases to as many as 1,000 words.
    • A speech delay is when a toddler doesn’t meet these typical speech milestones. 
  • Early language developmental delays can be caused by different things. Children learn and absorb language from regular interactions with their loved ones. Lack of language stimulation and one-on-one attention early in life affect a child’s development.
  • There are also physical and neurological issues that can affect language delays. These can be caused by:
    • Physical conditions:
      • Hearing impairment
      • Learning disability
      • Autism spectrum disorder
      • Specific genetic conditions (e.g., Down Syndrome, Wolf–Hirschhorn syndrome, etc.) 
      • Maturation delay (slower-than-average development of the speech centers of the brain)
    • Brain damage or neurological conditions:
      • Aphasia:
        • Although rare, when parts of the brain responsible for different parts of language are damaged, children can have difficulty using and/or understanding language
      • Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS):
        • A neurological condition that makes it difficult to plan and produce speech sound movements because of disrupted signals sent from the brain to the mouth muscles (lips, jaw, and tongue)

Get Started

At this time, we focus on in-person at-home speech-language services and/or community based services within greater south-west Michigan around the Battle Creek/Kalamazoo area. Travel rates apply for in person services depending on the distance. We offer virtual services across Michigan, Ohio, and beyond!