Speech Squirrel Speaks

Information about disabilities, delays, and the people impacted by them.

I was asked on Quora.com whether speech therapy works for toddlers…  My answer follows.

Answer by Seth Koster:

There are so many factors it’s hard to give a simple yes or no.

I’ve worked with kids who were severely and profoundly disordered (multiple chromosomal anomalies, severe Autism Spectrum Disorders, etc.), and I counted a huge success (and had a happy party with the parents) when we they were able to do something as simple as look towards the food they wanted.  To some people that might not be therapy that ‘worked’ but I say imagine going through your life unable to communicate.  Imagine every day having to eat something you hated because you didn’t have a strategy to make a choice known.  Imagine the difference in your quality of life just being able to make a choice like that.  To me, that’s a success.

I’ve also worked with kids who developed communication strategies using sign language, communication boards, apps (such as the one I wrote, Toddler Talk AAC on the App Store), and a variety of other methods of Alternative and Augmentative Communications systems.  Some of those kids increased their verbal communication (research shows that AAC is associated with increased verbal language) and some didn’t, but all of them were able to communicate more effectively with their families and other important people in their lives.

I’ve also worked with some kids who just took to therapy like a fish to water and increased their verbal language like a faucet was turned on.

Finally, I’ve worked with some kids who, heart-wrenchingly for me, did not seem to make progress.  I would pour everything into it and any progress I saw would be minimal and, by the next session, regressed.  Perhaps I gave these children and families some value for their time, I certainly hope so, but I can’t honestly say that therapy worked for them.  Perhaps I laid the foundation which a later therapist could use, but I just don’t know.

I hope that answers your question.


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Does speech therapy really work for toddlers?

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