Our Speech/Language Therapy department evaluates and treats infants through adolescents with communication and/or functional feeding impairments. Comprehensive audiological evaluations for hearing testing and modified barium swallow studies to assess swallowing function are additional services we offer to our pediatric patients.
What do speech pathologists evaluate?
Evaluations may include assessment of skills in the following areas:
- Articulation and intelligibility
- Assistive/ augmentative communication
- Auditory processing: interpreting information you hear
- Expressive language: communicating through words, gestures and/or alternative methods
- Oral motor for eating and talking
- Pragmatic language/social skills
- Receptive language: comprehending and understanding
Treatment may be recommended based on evaluation results from specialized testing and clinical judgment. Treatment goals will be achieved using the most appropriate intervention strategy and/or a combination of strategies. Treatment approaches may include:
- Traditional speech and language treatment
- Structured play
- Phonological approach
- Neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT)
- Electrical Stimulation/Vital Stim™
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
- Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support (SCERTS)
- Relationship-based interventions
- Oral motor for feeding and speech development
- Sensory integration for functional feeding
- State-of-the-art technology and equipment to supplement various strategies
- Collaboration with home and community therapists
- Caregiver education and training
When to Refer
Your child should be referred for speech/language therapy services if he/she exhibits any of the following:
- Multiple errors in speech and is not understood by age 3.
- Inconsistent errors, unintelligible speech, extremely limited numbers of sounds.
- Not making eye contact and turn-taking with actions or vocalizations by 6 months of age, or not recognizing objects or pictures by age 2.
- Non-verbal or speaking only in single words at 2.5 years of age; or if unable to produce complete, complex sentences by age 4.
- Trouble recalling and using new information because of problems with language, attention and memory.
- No friends because he/she is unable to interact with others at an age-appropriate level, such as following rules of conversation.
- Voice does not sound right. For example, hoarse, raspy, breathy or if the child likes to scream or talk loudly.
- Drools beyond the age of 4.
- Cannot manage the transition to table foods.
Modified Barium Swallow Studies
For children experiencing difficulty with eating and those who have suspected aspiration (food/liquid going into lungs instead of stomach), a modified barium swallow study may be completed to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of swallowing problems.
A modified barium swallow study is a video x-ray taken while the child is eating and/or drinking. It is used to assess the safety of the swallow and to determine what foods and liquids would be the safest for the child to swallow.
These studies are medically supervised and performed by a team that includes a speech language pathologist and radiology technician.
VitalStim™ is a treatment method used for children and adults with swallowing disorders. This method utilizes neuromuscular electrical stimulation (“estim”) during therapeutic feeding and oral motor activities. Estim is used to strengthen oral, facial and pharyngeal muscles. Patients are then able to use their muscles to initiate and/or strengthen the swallow which helps to promote eating orally and/or upgrading diets.
Children are evaluated by a licensed speech/language pathologist who has been certified in VitalStim™ treatment. Each evaluation will assess oral-motor function, swallowing, current diet level, and prognosis for improvement using electrical stimulation. The family and patient play an integral part in treatment planning and potential goal areas if treatment is recommended. VitalStim™ treatment is typically recommended three times per week for eight to 12 weeks.
For more information regarding an evaluation, please call 412.420.2362 or toll free 877.433.1109.
For specific treatment information or to learn more about VitalStim™, please call the Speech-Language Therapy department at 412.420.2256.