As a speech and language pathologist (SLP), I am often asked about what I do and how my work helps kids in their daily lives. I love what I do, and I’m more than happy to answer these questions!

What is the difference between speech and language?

Speech is the physical act of moving the articulators (jaw, tongue, and lips) to make sounds. Language is a multi-faceted process that encompasses understanding spoken conversation, using words to express thoughts and feelings, and following the unspoken social “rules” of conversation. Both speech and language affect our ability to effectively communicate with the people around us.

Do kids “outgrow” speech and language difficulties?

The answer to this question is “maybe.” Speech and language skills develop over time, and they build upon each other. Therefore, if your child is missing some foundational skills, then he or she is likely to have trouble learning more advanced skills later on. This delayed growth can snowball rapidly, which makes “outgrowing” speech and language delays difficult. If you are concerned that your child is not meeting speech and language milestones in a timely manner, then it is best to consult an SLP.

Are kids aware of their speech and language difficulties?

Many of the kids we work with, especially those who are of school age, know why they come to speech and language therapy. They recognize people have a hard time understanding them and ask them to repeat themselves. They recognize when they stutter and can’t get their words out. They recognize when they can’t find the words to express what they want to say. Kids often feel frustrated by these challenges, but they also feel proud of themselves when they overcome them!

Does having a speech or language disorder mean that a child is unintelligent?

Absolutely not! Although speech and language disorders are associated with some intellectual disabilities, there are plenty of children with average to above average intelligence who struggle with speech and language. These children may just need help learning to produce sounds correctly, monitor the fluency of their speech, or find the words to express themselves. A little help can go a long way!

Isn’t speech therapy just play time?

Kids often leave speech therapy sessions talking about all the fun they had and the games they played. This is a good thing! As Fred Rogers of the children’s television program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood once said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Play is a huge part of speech and language therapy because it encourages learning in a natural, fun way.