Speech Therapy

Speech therapy helps children with communication challenges,
both in how they speak and how they understand communication.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is a healthcare service that evaluates, diagnoses, and treats communication and swallowing disorders. It is provided by speech-language pathologists and addresses issues such as articulation, fluency, voice, language, and cognitive-communication impairments.

The following are general categories of the common disorders we treat:

  • Language disorder-  Characterized by difficulty understanding language or following directions, vocabulary, and/or the inability to choose appropriate words and combine them correctly for sentences.
  • Speech Sound Disorder-  Characterized by the inability to produce individual speech sounds, or difficulty combining sounds correctly for words that are clear (phonological disorder, articulation disorder or apraxia of speech). Speech sounds may be incorrectly substituted (“tun for sun), omitted (“ool for school) or distorted (“shun for sun).
  • Fluency disorder (stuttering)-  Characterized by an abnormal amount of involuntary repetitions, hesitations, prolongation, blocks or disruptions in the natural flow or rhythm of speech. This is often accompanied by secondary characteristics (tics and other movements).
  • Feeding or swallowing disorder (dysphagia and pediatric feeding disorder)-  Characterized by difficulty with normal oral feeding or swallowing.

The ability to communicate is essential to a child’s early development and success at home, school and in the community. Siskin Children’s Institute offers individualized evaluations and treatment for each child by ASHA certified speech- language pathologists and speech pathology assistants.

Speech-Language Pathology services are available to target the following:


  • Articulation and phonology
  • Receptive and Expressive Language
  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Stuttering
  • Phonological awareness/reading
  • Motor Speech disorders
  • Feeding/oral motor skills
  • Pragmatics/social skills
  • Auditory Processing

Evaluations and treatments are available for a variety of diagnoses including:


  • Autism Spectrum disorders
  • Cognitive Impairments
  • Developmental delays
  • Prematurity
  • Congenital disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Attention Deficit disorders
  • Feeding/Oral Motor/Swallowing Disorders

Understanding the difference between language and speech disorders is vital. Language involves forming sentences and understanding words, while speech concerns the physical movements of the mouth to make sounds. A child may have a language disorder, a speech sound disorder or sometimes both. Speech sound disorders can specifically involve challenges in producing sounds due to difficulties with oral motor placement, and/or difficulties planning out movements that our tongues/lips need to make for sounds. 


Some signs to look out for include: 

  • Delayed babbling or delayed noise production (i.e. child saying “uh oh, oops, wow, yay”), vehicle sounds (i.e. vroom, choo choo), animal sounds, greetings (hi/bye) etc.
  • Having difficulty imitating your sounds or words
  • Getting frustrated when others can’t understand them
  • Family members or familiar adults are not able to understand your child
  • Only having a limited number of sounds that they do make (i.e. only making the /p/ and /b/ sounds)
  • If your child consistently makes the same types of errors (can’t say /k/ so “cat” becomes “tat”).

Research shows that the earlier we start therapy, the better. If you have any questions, or are worried about communication milestones, seeking a speech/language evaluation is the best place to start.

Speech Therapy Q&A

What is speech therapy?

Speech Therapy is a type of therapy that helps children that have any type of difficulty with communication. So, that could include making their needs and wants known and difficulty producing speech sounds so that others could understand them. It could also include their ability to understand what they hear like following directions, answering questions, putting sentences together appropriately, using grammar correctly, and having conversations with their peers.

Why should I consider speech therapy for my child?

If a parent has any concern that their child might be delayed in speech & language skills (like not using any words at 18 months or not putting any words together when they’re 2 ½ years old like their peers are doing) it could be a great time to request a referral for speech therapy. We also work a lot with children that are on the Autism Spectrum, children with Down syndrome, and other disabilities.

What can a parent expect in their initial appointment?

When the child comes for their initial appointment, that is going to be an evaluation and typically those appointments last between 90 minutes – 2 hours, depending on the child. A therapist will bring the family back, administer a clinical interview (asking the parents’ concerns, relevant medical history, how long the issues have been going on, etc.) then the therapists will do some clinical observation of the child by seeing how they are communicating, how they’re interacting and playing, etc. Then we will administer some form of a standardized evaluation of the child, so we can compare their communications skills to other children their age. This will vary depending on the child, so it could be a play-based assessment where the child is interacting with toys or it may be a more structured assessment where we’re having them look at pictures, answer questions, or follow directions.

What makes speech therapy different at Siskin Children’s Institute?

One of the huge benefits that we have here at Siskin Children’s Institute is that we have so many disciplines under one roof. So, the therapists, teachers, and doctors are able to collaborate and work closely with one another. Many times, we are able to co-treat, with occupational or speech therapy, so both therapists are able to see what each other are both working on with the child and help incorporate those goals together. Another benefit that makes the Speech Therapy Program specifically different at Siskin Children’s Institute is that we have therapists here that are very well versed in augmentative and alternative communication. This is very helpful for children who have limited verbal speech or have difficulty with verbal speech and are using some augmentative ways to communicate like a high-tech device (speech tablet) or a lower-tech system like pictures. We have a lot of experience with those practices which is less commonly seen throughout the industry.

What does a therapy session look like?

Our therapists like most of our sessions to be child-centered and play-based meaning that we use play and the child’s interest to work on their speech & language goals. This session might look like pushing a child on a swing, then stopping the swing, so that allows them the opportunity to say “GO!” or “MORE!” or “SWING!. This could also include having a child practice their speech sounds then taking a turn to play one of their favorite games. It really just depends on what the individual goals of the child are. We also like to keep the parents involved in the sessions as much as possible either by physically joining in the session or in the observation rooms. Our therapists always talk with the families after the session about what they worked on and what strategies were successful to help their child be a better communicator.

How are these techniques supported in the home?

Any strategies that were used in the session, we make sure the parents are aware of how they can implement them at home. If it is appropriate, we give homework for the families to work on a specific task like grammatical structure or on speech sounds. Our therapists might also give them a physical paper for them to take home or show them how to use their child’s favorite activity to imbed their speech goals into that activity to help engage them and keep them moving forward.

How do I get a speech evaluation scheduled for my child?

If a parent has concerns about their child’s speech & language skills, then they can request a referral from their pediatrician or primary care provider and that will be the first step in getting an evaluation scheduled at Siskin Children’s Institute.