Speech-Language Pathology

Speech-Language Pathology

The Lakota Speech and Language Pathology Department provides a resource of information to the community. Lakota is staffed by 24 speech-language pathologists providing services to two high schools, two freshman schools, four junior schools, ten elementary schools, and four early childhood centers.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the role of the speech-language pathologist in the educational setting within the public school?
Speech and language services by a speech-language pathologist are provided as a supplement to the child's basic educational program, either in regular education or in special education. The speech language pathologist in the public school provides evaluations and remediation of communication delays for students in preschool through high school.

What is an articulation problem?
Articulation is the process by which sounds, syllables, and words are formed when your tongue, jaw, teeth, lips, and palate alter the air stream coming from the vocal folds. A person has an articulation problem when he or she produces sounds, syllables, or words incorrectly so that listeners do not understand what is being said or pay more attention to the way the words sound than to what they mean.

Is an articulation problem the same as "baby talk?
"An articulation problem sometimes sounds like baby talk because many young children do mispronounce or omit some sounds or syllables. Words that sound cute when mispronounced by young children may later interfere with their ability to communicate with others in the future. Some sounds and word substitutions such as /wuv/ for /love/ and /wabbit/ for /rabbit/ are developmentally appropriate for preschoolers and kindergartners. As a child gets older he or she will generally develop correct pronunciation on his or her own. If a child does not perfect those sounds on his/her own, the "baby talk" may begin to interfere with the ability to communicate. Some children have so many severe errors that their articulation problems are very different from "baby talk", and even adults who are familiar with them have difficulty understanding what they are saying.

Do children learn all sounds at once?
Sounds are learned in an orderly sequence. Some sounds, such as "p," "m," and "b" are learned as early as 2 years of age. Other sounds, like "s," "r," and "l" often are not completely mastered until early school years.

At what age should a child be producing all sounds correctly?
Most children make all the sounds of English by 8 years of age. Many children learn these sounds much earlier.

How can I help a child pronounce words correctly?
Set a good example. Don't interrupt or constantly correct the child. Don't let anyone tease or mock (including friends or relatives). Instead, present a good model. Use the misarticulated word correctly with emphasis. If the child says, "that's a big wabbit," you say "Yes, that is a big RABBIT. " A big white RABBIT."

Is it important to correct an articulation problem?
When you consider the possible impact an articulation problem may have on one's social, emotional, and educational status, the answer becomes obvious. Our speech is an important part of us. The quality of our lives is affected by the adequacy of our speech.

What is language?
Language is a code that we learn to use in order to communicate ideas and express our wants and needs. Reading, writing, gesturing, and speaking are all forms of language. Language is an organized system of symbols shared among a group of people, which represent objects, actions, feelings, processes, and relationships. Every language has a set of rules that govern the content, form, and use of that language.

How do children learn language?
Children learn language and speech by listening to the language around them and practicing what they hear. In this way, they figure out the rules of the language code. It is not learned all at once but in stages over time.

How can parents help a child learn to talk?
Talk to the child about what they are doing and seeing. Read to the child. Encourage the child to communicate, but don't demand speech by asking lots of questions. Expand your child's simple utterances by adding correct grammar. Make talking fun.

How do you know that a child's language and speech are what they should be for a particular age?
There are expected language behaviors for different ages. For example, by 1 year of age, a child should use one or two words, follow simple requests ("Come here"), and understand simple questions ("Where's your shoe?"). By 2-3 years of age, the child should be using two or three word sentences to talk about and ask for things and following two requests ("Get the ball and put it on the table"). Children are individuals and do develop at slower or faster rates than expected. What is most important is that the child shows continuous language growth.

When should I seek the help of a Speech-Language Pathologist?
When you become concerned. Don't delay. If there is a problem, early attention is important. If there is no problem, you will be relieved of worry.

Will hearing problems affect speech and language development?
Yes. The first years of life are important for learning speech and language. Even mild hearing losses may result in children missing much of the speech and language around them. Parents should make sure that their children receive a regular hearing evaluation from an audiologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), particularly if there is a history of ear infections, frequent colds or other upper respiratory infections or allergies.

What is stuttering?
Stuttering is the condition in which the flow of speech is broken by abnormal stoppages (no sound), repetition (st-st-stuttering), or prolongations (sssstuttering) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak.

Aren't all people nonfluent to some extent?
Yes. Almost all children go through a stage of frequent nonfluency in early speech development. Adults may interject syllables ("uh") and occasionally repeat words, phrases and sounds, but these nonfluencies are accepted as normal and usually are not a cause for concern.

What causes stuttering?
We still do not know for a fact what causes stuttering. It may have different causes in different people, or it may occur only when a combination of factors comes together. It is also quite possible that what causes stuttering is quite different from what makes it continue or get worse. Possible influences include incoordination of speech muscles; rate of language development; the way parents and others talk to the child; and other forms of communication and life stress.

At what age is stuttering likely to appear?
Quite often stuttering is noticed between 2 and 5 years of age. This behavior is usually considered normal depending on severity; however, if this persists beyond age 5 further evaluation may be indicated.

Once stuttering has developed, can it be treated?
Yes, there are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults. There is no published scientific data that indicates the general superiority of any one of these approaches.

Can stuttering be "cured?"
It is best to avoid thinking in terms of an absolute "cure" for stuttering. Stuttering is not a disease. The goal should be to progress toward improved fluency and success in communicating.

What should I do when I hear a child speaking nonfluently?
Children may be unaware that they are speaking nonfluently. Do not call attention to the nonfluent speech pattern. Maintain eye contact and do no finish the sentence for them. Listen patiently and carefully to what the child is saying, and do not focus on how it is being said.