Some kids have trouble saying certain sounds or words. This can be frustrating because others may have trouble understanding what they're trying to say.
The good news is that kids who have trouble saying certain sounds or understanding others can go to a special kind of therapist for help — speech therapists (also called speech-language pathologists).
Speech therapists help people of all ages with different speech and language disorders. Here are some of them:
Lots of kids see speech therapists. It's a great way to learn to speak more clearly. Sometimes a kid has a medical condition that makes speaking more difficult. Here are some of them:
A kid visiting a speech therapist for the first time will take a speaking test. Don't worry, it's not like a test in school that's going to affect your report card. This test is a way of finding out what types of speech problems a kid has. The kid will be asked to say certain sounds and words. These may be recorded and the therapist might write some stuff down during the test. The test will help the therapist figure out the kid's needs and decide what treatments are needed.
The "treatment" for speech problems is practice. If a kid has trouble with articulation or fluency, the therapist will spend time showing him or her how to make the proper sounds. The therapist will demonstrate the sounds and ask the kid to try to copy them. That means copying the way the therapist moves the lips, mouth, and tongue to make the right sound.
Mirrors can be helpful here. The therapist might ask the kid to make these sounds while looking in the mirror. Some therapists use games to make this practice more fun.
If your therapist is helping you with a language disorder, your sessions may seem a little like school. He or she will help you with grammar — how to put words together properly to form clear statements and thoughts. If you have difficulties with understanding what you hear, you may play games that work on these skills, such as Simon Says.
Some treatments are short and others are longer. It depends on the problem the kid is working on. A kid might see the therapist once a week or a few times a week. Treatment can take a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.
If you have speech problem, the best advice is to practice, practice, practice. Find time to work on the skills the therapist has shown you. Maybe spend some time before bed practicing in front of a mirror. Ask your parent to work with you.
Just like practicing your foul shot or memorizing your multiplication tables, hard work pays off!