Components of Speech/Language Therapy


An articulation disorder involves problems making sounds. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added or changed. These errors might make it difficult for a child to be understood by others and impact social interactions, school participation and academics (ex. Reading, writing, phonological awareness skills). Many children make speech errors, so factors such as age range in which children develop each sound is used when determining if sound errors are age-appropriate. If the articulation errors continue past the age that they are expected to be correct, the child may have an articulation disorder. Speech therapy for an articulation disorder will focus on the specific sound(s) with which a child is having difficulty.

Augmentative Alternative Communication/Technology (AAC)

According the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write. People with severe speech or language problems rely on AAC to supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional. Special augmentative aids, such as picture and symbol communication boards and electronic devices, are available to help people express themselves. This may increase social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth. AAC users should not stop using speech if they are able to do so. The AAC aids and devices are used to enhance their communication”. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health’s ‘National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders’ classifies AAC as, “…assistive device or assistive technology can refer to any device that helps a person with hearing loss or a voice, speech, or language disorder to communicate. These terms often refer to devices that help a person to hear and understand what is being said more clearly or to express thoughts more easily. With the development of digital and wireless technologies, more and more devices are becoming available to help people with hearing, voice, speech, and language disorders communicate more meaningfully and participate more fully in their daily lives”.

Expressive Language

Expressive language skills encompass the many ways of conveying a message. Expressive language skills include learning the forms of language, such as verb forms, plural endings, and how to use pronouns, as well as the semantic content of language, which leads to effectively communicating one’s wants and needs independently. It also includes the semantic function of language.

Reading and writing skills can be impacted by language difficulties and thus can be addressed in the school setting by the speech and language therapist. The focus of a school-based speech and language therapist is to remediate the difficulties students encounter in understanding language and expressing themselves in a direct effort to increase their success throughout the curriculum.

Phonological Processing

A phonological processing disorder involves patterns of sound errors (ex. Substituting the “t” sound for the “k” sound consistently in all positions or when a word begins with a blend, omitting one of the sounds). While it is common for young children to have these errors, it is not expected as a child gets older. If the phonological process persists past when it is expected to be gone, the child may have a phonological processing disorder. Speech therapy for phonological processes will often target a class of sounds (EX. The “k” sound and “g” sound simultaneously).

Receptive Language

Receptive and expressive language skills develop from infancy. Receptive language skills, the ability to take in language and understand, include being able to follow directions, understand a story, and understand figurative language.


According the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Stuttering affects the fluency of speech. It begins during childhood and, in some cases, lasts throughout life. The disorder is characterized by disruptions in the production of speech sounds, also called ‘disfluencies.’ Most people produce brief disfluencies from time to time. For instance, some words are repeated and others are preceded by ‘um’ or ‘uh.’ Disfluencies are not necessarily a problem; however, they can impede communication when a person produces too many of them. In most cases, stuttering has an impact on at least some daily activities. The specific activities that a person finds challenging to perform vary across individuals. For some people, communication difficulties only happen during specific activities, for example, talking on the telephone or talking before large groups. For most others, however, communication difficulties occur across a number of activities at home, school, or work. Some people may limit their participation in certain activities. Such ‘participation restrictions often occur because the person is concerned about how others might react to disfluent speech. Other people may try to hide their disfluent speech from others by rearranging the words in their sentence (circumlocution), pretending to forget what they wanted to say, or declining to speak. Other people may find that they are excluded from participating in certain activities because of stuttering. Clearly, the impact of stuttering on daily life can be affected by how the person and others react to the disorder”. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health’s ‘National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders’ classifies stuttering as, “Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks. An individual who stutters exactly knows what he or she would like to say but has trouble producing a normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggle behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips. Stuttering can make it difficult to communicate with other people, which often affect a person’s quality of life and interpersonal relationships. Stuttering can also negatively influence job performance and opportunities, and treatment can come at a high financial cost.