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speech-language pathologists & kids

How speech-language pathologists work with kids

When you hear the term speech-language pathologist (SLP), you might think of professionals who help kids with speech difficulties. And that’s not wrong. SLPs work on challenges like stuttering or trouble pronouncing word sounds.

But SLPs also work on challenges that are related to language. That includes problems with communication and reading.

These specialists are trained to work on many types of learning differences, including

  • Dyslexia
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Language disorders
  • Social communication disorder

SLPs (also known as speech-language therapists or speech therapists) often work with kids at school, where therapy is free. But some SLPs work in private practices. 

SLPs don’t only help kids. Speech-language therapists who work privately may also treat adults with some language challenges. But it’s less common.

In addition to working on speech skills, SLPs at school may work with kids on language, speaking, listening, and reading skills. They design activities based on individual needs. Here are some things they might focus on:

  • Boosting phonological awareness skills. These skills allow kids to recognize and work with sounds in words. SLPs might start by focusing on rhyming and identifying the beginning sounds in words.
  • Expressing more complex ideas. SLPs may teach kids to speak in longer sentences and to share more details. They might focus on using “joining words” like andbut, or because.
  • Understanding inferences. These are ideas that aren’t directly stated in text. SLPs can help kids understand the meaning of what they read.
  • Building vocabulary. Knowing more words can help kids with speaking, reading, and listening. To help kids remember new words, SLPs might act them out, use them to retell stories, or play vocabulary games.
  • Improving reading comprehension. SLPs may start by helping kids recall what they know about a topic before they read. SLPs may also teach kids how to look for key elements in stories.
  • Improving social communication skills. Kids may get help with the back-and-forth of conversation. This can involve learning to pay attention to the other person’s tone of voice, body language, and emotions.

Speech therapy is tailored to meet a child’s needs. So, SLPs address specific skills. For example, they might help a child who has trouble with social skills make appropriate conversation. Or help a struggling reader connect letters to sounds.

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