Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) is a specialist treatment for children who have difficulties with speech, language and communication. SLT helps children to communicate better, improving all aspects of the child’s life. (Sometimes, speech and language therapists also work with children with eating or swallowing difficulties).
Almost 1 in 11 children, aged 5 years, have a speech and language difficulty. Speech and language needs are the commonest type of special educational need in children aged 4-11 years old.
Speech and language disorders are sometimes seen on their own (primary) and at other times accompanying other conditions such as Autism, Intellectual disability and Down’s syndrome (secondary).
Our specialist speech and language therapists can work with children and young people up to the age of 17 years. Ideally, treatment should be started as early as possible and the younger the child, the better the outcomes.
In working with children and families, our speech and language therapists will:
- Carry out a thorough assessment of a child’s speech, language and communication needs, including specialist assessments if required.
- Develop personalised therapy plans
- Work closely with the family to implement home programs
- Collaborate with and provide advice to schools to support the child’s communication needs and therapy plan
- Refer to other professionals if needed
How does speech and language therapy work?
Our speech and language therapists work with a child individually or in a small group. They work closely with the child’s parents.
They usually provide one or both of the following interventions:
- Language activities: The SLT will interact and communicate with a child by playing and talking using pictures, books or objects to stimulate language development. They will do exercises with the child to build language skills.
- Articulation activities: The SLT will model and demonstrate correct sounds and syllables in words and sentences for a child, often during play activities. The SLT will show the child how to make specific sounds that the child is struggling with.
- Fluency activities: The SLT will work on fluency enhancement and stuttering modification techniques in order to allow the individual to gain more confidence in his communication abilities. This will be done through fun activities adjusted to the age and interests of the child.
- Higher-level cognitive abilities activities: Language is one of the person’s cognitive abilities; its acquisition is highly dependent on other cognitive skills. Depending on the difficulties noted, the SLP will stimulate the abilities pertaining to language to allow better oral and written language acquisition.
- Oral Motor activities: The SLT may use a variety of oral exercises — including various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises — to strengthen the muscles of the mouth. The activities are carefully selected to stimulate the same movements used for speech production.
- Literacy Activities: the SLT will support the child by introducing different approaches to acquire letters, reading and writing strategies, in the most fun and easy way.
Types of speech and Language Disorders treated at Priory
- Articulation disorder: Problems with making sounds or saying words incorrectly such that it is sometimes or often difficult to understand what they child is saying.
- Fluency disorder: Problems with the flow of speech such as seen in stuttering
- Receptive language disorder: The child struggles to get the meaning of what is said to them. The child may have problems with understanding or processing language.
- Expressive language disorder: A difficulty with producing language to communicate effectively. Children with expressive language disorder may have difficulty finding their words, have a limited vocabulary, find difficulty in applying grammatical rules in their sentences.
- Pragmatic difficulties: these difficulties are related to the use of language in a social context. Children presenting with pragmatic difficulties often can form grammatically correct sentences, yet not used in the right context with the appropriate people.
- Reading and writing disorders: children with or without oral language problems can have difficulties in acquiring reading and writing due to numerous reasons. In this case, they might confuse between orally/ visually alike letters, have difficulty applying grammatical rules and be informative in writing and understanding an information read.
Does my child need speech and language therapy?
If your child has any of the following difficulties, speech and language therapy is likely to be of help:
- Not reacting to sudden noise by 3 to 4 months
- Not babbling by the age of 9 months
- Not pointing to show the adult something by the age of 12 months
- Not using at least 20 words by the age of 18 months
- Not showing interest in others around him at the age of 2 years
- Showing selectivity in eating
- Lacking interest in books, games, or toys played with another person
- Not putting consistently two words together by the age of 2 years
- Not being understood at least 50% of the time by either familiar or less familiar people around him by the age of 2 years
- Not being able to answer simple questions
- Needing gestural support or simplification of message to understand
- Repeating recurrently sentences and questions
- Drooling frequently
- Repeating sounds, words or phrases while talking, affecting the fluidity of his speech
- Not producing speech sounds accurately
- Not putting two actions together to make a short story during play, by the age of 3 years
- Not being able to tell a short story by the age of 4 years
- Confusing between letters in reading and/or writing
Therapy should begin as soon as possible. Children who start therapy earlier tend to have better results than those who begin later. This doesn't mean that older children won't do well in therapy, but their progress might be slower.
What will happen once my child comes to the Priory Speech and Language Department?
- Intake consultation:
On your first visit, an intake consultation will take place with the therapist. During this meeting, the speech therapist will gather information about the patient. The intake will help the therapist identify main difficulties and to judge whether therapy can be started straightaway or if further assessment is required.
The intake consultation is an important step to help both the family and the clinician get to know each other, as they shall be active partners during therapy.
- Structured Assessment:
If the intake consultation highlights a need for formal assessment, tests will be carried out as part of a comprehensive evaluation of the different aspects of communication. At the Priory, we use formal standardized testing tools along with clinician’s observations. Merging both is important in seeing the child holistically as well as respecting their cultural and linguistic specificities.
The assessment ends with a thorough written report presented to the family, compiling all its findings.
Therapy usually starts with setting up therapy goals. These goals will be revised periodically, depending on the needs and challenges of the child as well as his/her improvement and the feedback of the family.
For further information about our Children and Adolescent Services call today on: (+971) 4 245 3800 (Dubai) / (+971) 2 651 8111 (Abu Dhabi) or submit an enquiry form in confidence. We will provide you with details on all our treatments and offer help on how to support your child's or teenager's mental health and wellbeing.