There are many reasons for speech sound delay or disorders and the first step is a thorough assessment.
What does a Speech Assessment look like?
With younger children, around 2 – 2.5 years we often start by collecting a good speech sample during play or general chatting. Sometimes we do this with an audiotape so that we are able to listen to your child’s speech sounds repeatedly in order to determine any speech error patterns. A good way to get a speech sample is looking at a favourite book together and trying to get your child to name as many items, animals or characters as possible in the book. For older children, 4.5 years plus we do more formal speech sound assessments where we show your child a series of pictures which focus on varying sounds or sound patterns, for example:
- Are the end sounds present or left off, does your child say BE_ instead of BED for example?
- Are the back sounds produced at the front of the mouth, is a digger a DIDDER or a pig a PID?
- Are sound blends reduced, for instances a snake becomes a NAKE ?
- Or do many phonemes (single speech sounds) collapse all into one error sound? Like all F , R or L become a B?
Once we have discovered the error pattern we can then unravel the problem and work on solutions. We make a plan and prioritise which of the patterns we can target first, second and next. There are several approaches that can be used to tackle speech sound errors and most therapist have two or three favourite approaches as their go-to. I will fill you in on my favourite ones in future blogs.
What does a Speech Therapy session look like?
These days we have two options: on-line via zoom and face to face in the clinic setting.
Both are great options!
For all clients who live far away a zoom session will be the option to go for. But zoom sessions also work really well for the older child as, let’s face it, are there any kids out there who do not like a bit of screen time?
I find that children around 5 years old really love the on-line games and sessions are fun and very effective. We usually start off with a quick game to warm up and then we go into the speech sound patterns we need to improve and work on. There are 100s of tried and tested on-line games and game decks which can be hugely entertaining and really nice to work with.
In clinic, we also often start with a short game to settle in and then we target the various sound patterns we are working on within table top games, or arts and crafts activities. We aim to get up to 100 speech sound trials per session, using a variety of motivating games to keep our little ones going and focused.
Both, face to face and on-line sessions are between 40-45 minutes long – time usually flies by! – and then parents get to practise home exercises to make sure that the new speech sounds are being practised every day.
Over the coming weeks I shall do blogs on great games and home exercises that I give the parents and I will talk about games we do in the session that are fun and can be copied for home use. Watch this space!
Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.