Speech-Language Pathology

Speech therapy for kids focuses on treating disorders related to making sounds. Language therapy helps with conditions that affect understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.

Speech disorders fall into three general categories:

  • Articulation disorders relate to the ability to make sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners can’t understand.
  • Fluency disorders include stuttering, in which the flow of speech is interrupted by unusual stops, partial-word repetitions or prolonging sounds and syllables.
  • Resonance or voice disorders describe pitch, volume or quality of the voice that distract from what’s being said. These types of disorders also may cause pain or discomfort for a child when speaking.

Language disorders can either be expressive (affecting a child’s ability to express themselves) or receptive (understanding or processing language).

Cognitive-communication disorders are issues with communication skills that involve memory, attention, perception, organization, regulation and problem-solving.

Speech-language pathologists at Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, help identify, diagnose and treat disorders that affect a child’s verbal communication.

Our speech-language pathologists are specially trained to work with infants, children and teens to provide auditory verbal therapy.

Speech and Language Development Milestones

If your baby isn’t responding to sound or making noises, contact your pediatrician right away. For less obvious situations, it can be hard to tell if there’s a reason to be concerned.

Parents and regular caregivers should be able to understand about half a child’s speech at age 2 and three-quarters of it at age 3.

Here are some milestones to watch for, but trust your instincts. If your child’s speech is harder to understand than you’d expect for their age, contact your pediatrician.

By 12 Months

  • Uses gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye

By 18 Months

  • Vocalizations to communicate should be more common than gestures
  • Imitates sounds
  • Understanding simple verbal requests

By 2 Years

  • Produces words or phrases spontaneously and relies less on imitating speech or actions
  • Uses oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs and should be beyond saying only some sounds or words repeatedly
  • Able to follow simple directions
  • Tone of voice does not have unusual characteristics such as nasal or raspy sounding

By 4 Years

  • The child should be mostly understandable even by children who don’t know them

What Does a Child Do in Speech Therapy?

To determine a diagnosis, the care team will perform comprehensive evaluations and work with the caregiver to develop a treatment plan for your child using best practices in listening and spoken language (LSL) therapy.

At Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology, our developmental interventionist is a certified auditory verbal educator in LSL. Our developmental interventionist is specially trained to provide early intervention and school-based support to children with hearing loss and their families. Our developmental interventionist also works to connect families with community and state resources to support the child.

In speech-language therapy, your child works one-on-one or in a small group with a speech-language pathologist.

  • Language intervention activities involve playing and talking, using pictures, books, objects or ongoing events to stimulate language development. The therapist may model correct vocabulary and grammar, and use repetition exercises to build language skills.
  • Articulation therapy focuses on sound production, and exercises involve having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables in words and sentences for a child, often during play activities. The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child’s specific needs. The speech-language pathologist will show the child how to make certain sounds, such as the “r” sound, and may show how to move the tongue to make specific sounds.
  • Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy uses a variety of oral exercises — including facial massage and various tongue, lip and jaw exercises — to strengthen the muscles of the mouth for eating, drinking and swallowing. The speech-language pathologist also may introduce different food textures and temperatures to increase a child’s oral awareness during eating and swallowing.

Early Treatment and LSL Therapy

Early treatment for hearing loss can help your child achieve listening and spoken language improvement.

At Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology, our speech-language pathologists work with early interventionists to use strategies that can grow your child’s listening and spoken language abilities. We all learn spoken language by listening. A child with any degree of hearing loss can use a hearing device to learn to listen and speak. Key to this is a proper diagnosis, proper amplification and consistent participation in listening and spoken language therapy.

Our team, along with your child’s audiologist, works to ensure hearing devices deliver their maximum benefit.

First Steps

In Kentucky, children up to age 3 with at least mild hearing loss in both ears can qualify for the First Steps early intervention program. If your child is identified with hearing loss or if our pediatric audiologists determine hearing is normal but your child has other developmental concerns, your child may be eligible. With your permission, we can contact First Steps, which may authorize certain services at our office and in the community.

LSL Therapy

Children with hearing loss who do not meet First Steps criteria for services or children who are newly identified with hearing loss after age 3 may be eligible to receive care through in-person or telehealth services with our LSL providers.

LSL therapy can help your child maximize listening and spoken language from home with their own toys. Thanks to an Oberkotter Foundation grant, Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology offers LSL therapy via telehealth at no cost.

Our goal is to help you maximize the time your child has their “ears on.” A child with any degree of hearing loss can learn to listen and talk. Your LSL therapist will help you learn fun and effective ways to increase listening and language into daily interactions with your child.

Coaching strategies focus on parents and caregivers being your child’s first and best teachers.

LSL Therapy Eligibility

  • Residents of Kentucky and Southern Indiana (The child does not have to be a patient at Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology to qualify.)
  • Children up to age 3 with hearing loss in one or both ears and using any kind of hearing device (hearing aids, bone conduction devices or cochlear implants)
  • Children may qualify even if they already participate in First Steps or receive physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy

Call (502) 588-8905 for more information.

Why Choose Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology

  • We offer an integrated, team-based approach to treating childhood hearing loss that includes the viewpoints and expertise of otolaryngologists, audiologists, speech-language pathologists and early interventionists.
  • We have the only fellowship-trained otolaryngologists in the region who specialize in pediatric ear, nose and throat care, and the only board-certified audiologist in Kentucky with a special certification in pediatric audiology from the American Board of Audiology.
  • Speech-language pathologists work with kids one-on-one and with families to maximize their ability to communicate verbally.
  • Two central locations, one in the Novak Center for Children’s Health in downtown Louisville and one in NuLu, as well as remote therapy via telehealth, make it easier to access care for your child.
  • Our providers work closely with Kentucky’s First Steps program to provide early intervention for children with hearing conditions. Listening and spoken language therapy via telehealth may be available at no cost.
  • The aerodigestive clinic brings together specialists in gastroenterology, otolaryngology, pulmonology, speech therapy and nutrition to care for complex airway and swallowing disorders. Patients benefit from multiple opinions, and families can schedule multiple specialist appointments for the same day.
  • Communicate with your child’s provider, renew prescriptions, schedule appointments and more through a free MyNortonChart account.

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