09:23 AM

Speech Therapy Gives Kids Their Voice

If your child consistently has trouble saying ‘r’ and instead substitutes ‘w’, your child may have an articulation disorder.

That speech problem – among several others – can be treated by speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists. People in this field have completed undergraduate and graduate degree work to learn the intricacies of language, speaking and oral anatomy and how they interplay to create speech. Many, like speech therapist Maria Danishefsky, also have earned their Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Danishefsky works out of the Health Center at Mountain Top and helps children of all ages manage language and even swallowing disorders.

“When I meet a child and his or her family, we first sit down to chat. I want to let the child get to know me and build trust so we can work on their particular speech issue together,” Danishefsky says.

Language barriers…

Some broad speech problem categories include:

  • Aphasia – Caused by a brain injury to the speech centers of the brain. People with this disorder may say long sentences that make no sense. Alternatively, some will have limited ability to speak and do not use words like, “the,” “am”, “I”, etc.
  • Articulation disorder – Substituting one letter for another in speech; or making a distorted sound when speaking, like a lisp.
  • Dysfluency disorder – Often presents as stuttering; child inserts extra syllables or sounds into words or elongates the sound of a word (draws it out longer).

…And how to overcome them

Treatment is tailored to the child, says Danishefsky who has been a speech therapist for more than 20 years.

Treatment activities will focus on: Speaking Breathing Repetition

Family involvement is encouraged. “Many times a child will have speech homework and we will need one or more family members to listen and help them practice,” she says.

If you or your child's pediatrician has a concern, schedule an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist.

Learn more about outpatient pediatric and adult speech therapy services at the Health Center at Mountain Top.