What is Speech Therapy? - Achieve Beyond

What is Speech Therapy?

Written By: Christina Feuge, MS, CCC-SLP, TSSLD

Speech therapy is a type of therapeutic service that is offered by a speech language pathologist (SLP) and is available to individuals with a broad range of speech and/or language impairments.  Speech therapy can be very beneficial in a number of ways, including but not limited to improve communication skills

Speech therapy offers growth in social skills, interactive learning, sequencing and following directions, and can help your child overcome numerous developmental delays.  Speech therapy can be provided to individuals ranging from all ages, birth through adulthood.

There are many different individuals who would benefit from speech and language therapy.  A toddler who is not using words to communicate, leading to great frustration, may benefit from speech therapy. Another example may be a child who has many articulation errors in their speech and cannot be understood by his/her peers.  Another, an adolescent with autism who cannot communicate verbally and needs assistive technology to communicate.  Speech therapy can also help improve problems with:

  • Fluency disorders (e.g., stuttering)
  • Receptive disorders (e.g., understanding language)
  • Expressive disorders (e.g., using language)
  • Social communication (e.g., using language in socially appropriate ways)
  • Reading and spelling (e.g., dyslexia)
  • Aphasia
  • Dysarthria
  • Swallowing disorders

What happens in speech therapy?

The speech language therapist may work in a few different ways in therapy.  This can be one on one, in a small group, or classroom setting.  At first speech therapy may look just like playing with a child.  That is because play is a very important milestone of development in children. 

Children learn through playing and participating in games, routines, and toys that they find fun and interesting!  You will find that your child may be more motivated to talk and say words when they are having fun.  Using play, the speech therapist will work with your child to help them learn, follow directions, and communicate.

Treatment techniques are used in speech therapy to help your child communicate and use language.  These approaches and strategies are specifically designed to treat each child’s needs.  The speech language therapist will use these strategies during therapy sessions and may also teach them to parents and family members for continued practice at home.  Some examples of techniques that are used in speech therapy include:

  • Giving choices: Giving a child a choice can help keep them motivated and interested in learning and encourage them to use gestures or words to make a decision. For example, you can ask your child, “Do you want to play with cars or blocks?”
  • Self-talk: using this technique, the speech therapist will talk about what they are doing, what they see, feel, or hear while it is happening. For example, the speech therapist may say, “I have a red car. I’m going to push it, ready?  I am so fast!”
  • Parallel talk: the speech therapist will use this technique to describe what the child is doing, feeling, or hearing. For example, the speech therapist may say, “ooooh!!! You have the blue car! Now you are going down the ramp.”
  • Expansion: Using this technique, the speech therapist will add one or more words to what the child says. For example, if the child points to a car and say “car,” the speech therapist may respond, “yes, a red car” or “big car.” 
  • Withholding: Sometimes speech therapists will withhold a child’s favorite toy or object so that they can use their words to make requests. For example, they may put the bubbles on a shelf so that the child can see them; but the child needs to use language to get the bubbles.  If the child points towards the bubbles on the shelf, the speech therapist may encourage them to further request by asking them “oh, you want the bubbles?”
  • Wait time: When asking a child a question or asking them to repeat a word, the speech therapist will give them a few seconds to respond. This will give the child time to process what they are being asked before responding.  Sometimes, they just need a few extra seconds to respond!
  • Repetition & Routines: using this technique, the speech therapist will repeat the same activity, game, or action over and over again. Additionally, the speech therapy may make a routine by saying the same words or combination of words during an activity.  Repeating the same words and activities is a great way to practice speech and language skills.  Through repetition and making routines, a child can learn to expect what will happen next, which is important for them to learn and communicate.  For example, every time you play with cars, say and repeat the words, “ready…set…go!” while playing.   After repeating those words each time cars are used, the child can learn the routine.  The child will then begin to join in on the play and begin saying the words.

What are the benefits of speech therapy?

There are many benefits of speech therapy! Improving your child’s overall communication skills is one of the main goals of speech-language therapy.  When working with a speech therapist with your child, you may notice the following achievements your child’s development over time:

  • Your child will communicate more effectively so they can express their own thoughts and feelings
  • You child can speak more clearly so that others can understand what they are saying
  • Your child can acknowledge instructions and follow them accurately.
  • Your child can understand social cues in conversation with their peers and family members.
  • Your child can engage in dialogue and conversation in multiple environments
  • Your child can enjoy expressing themselves in the exchange of ideas with others
  • Your child will Increase self-esteem and independence.

Remember, early identification and intervention is important for success of your child.  Additionally, the consistency and amount of speech therapy also plays a significant role in improvement.  Therefore, having a conversation with your speech therapist about how you can best integrate routines and strategies into your family’s daily life is so very important for their continued success!

If you would like to know more on how speech therapy can help your child, contact us at:


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