The title SLP or Speech Language Pathologist can be misleading.  Understandably, those who carry that title provide speech therapy.  But what many don’t realize is that the benefits of such a clinician can go far beyond speech and language.  Some of the skills that these therapists provide for children may come as a surprise.

While the benefits enumerated below are by no means exhaustive, it can be mind-expanding for those unfamiliar with the field.  In fact, SLPs are trained to provide a wide range of services that can impact their clients lives in ways not immediately noticeable by their title.  Knowing this, it would behoove the concerned parent or educator find a clinician with the appropriate specialty.

1. Swallowing

From the standpoint of anatomy, it is the same part of the body that is involved in swallowing as in producing speech and sound.  As part of their education and training, SLPs become familiar with the laryngeal, pharyngeal, and oral structures in addition to the respiratory system making them invaluable in both the evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders.

Often it is found that a child is a picky eater due to an underlying problem with swallowing, It has been found that infants born prematurely and children with anomalies in their craniofacial structure are at higher risk of suffering from deficits in swallowing.  Speech therapy can make a marked difference in the child’s eating!

2. Cognitive Understanding

Speech therapy can have a significant impact on children who are suffering from deficits in their understanding.  Take, for example, drawing inferences, developing perspective and insight, or even executive functioning, memory, and sequencing events. These are all critical for solving daily problems. Guess what?  Language processes impact each of these abilities in some way.

Suffering from a language processing deficit can cause the child to sequence events incorrectly, find it challenging to describe a past event, or organize the thoughts that are at the core of clear writing.

3. Being Socially Appropriate

At the heart of a child’s success socially is the ability to understand and communicate effectively.  On a very pragmatic level, if the language processing is difficult for the child, how can he/she hope to play and talk to friends? Often children who are unclear don’t respond appropriately in a social setting and are either considered stupid or not with it.

Here again, effective speech therapy can make a world of difference in the tender child’s social world. Without adequate language processing, the child can be marginalized which may leave him/her lonely, vulnerable to bullying, and at the very least take an enormous toll on confidence.

4. Speech Therapy Improves Reading

Everyone agrees that reading is perhaps the most fundamental skill that children need to be academically successful.  As the academic challenges increase throughout the school years, reading deficits will guarantee more failures in school.

Without a strong foundation in language skills, there is little chance that a child will become successful in reading.  It happens to be that although reading is visual and language is audio, the processing of both in the brain is very similar.  So if a child is struggling with language, a qualified clinician who can provide the necessary speech therapy can make all the difference.