Between birth and three years, children’s brains are quickly growing and adapting. They are developing neural connections in the brain that are more adaptable during these early stages.Early intervention services are provided to children ages birth to three who are at risk or have been identified as having a developmental delay, disability, or health condition that may affect development and learning. Early intervention supports families and caregivers, following a child led and parent coaching approach, in order to increase child participation in daily activities and routines that are important to the family and daily environment.
We provide services focusing on articulation, phonology, and Childhood Apraxia of Speech. We do not treat fluency or voice disorders, but work closely with other providers in the area in order to provide appropriate referrals.
When children have difficulty with pronunciation of sounds, this is referred to as an articulation or phonological disorder. It is normal for young children to make speech errors when they are learning to talk. However, by 3 years of age, children are understood by others 75-100% of the time. Children with articulation and phonological disorders may switch one sound for another, leave a sound out, or add sounds in a word. It may also be hard for others to understand what they are saying.
Some children may have difficulty coordinating motor movements needed to produce speech sounds and words. Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. Children with Apraxia of Speech (CAS) do not have muscle weakness. Instead, the brain has difficulty sending messages to the speech muscles and children have to put a lot of effort to coordinate the production of sounds, words, and sentences. Children with CAS may not always say words the same way every time, have difficulty with stress and intonation, produce distorted vowels and consonants, and may be able to say shorter words better than multisyllabic words. Children with CAS may also have difficulty with fine and gross motor skills, delayed language, and problems with literacy.
Receptive Language refers to the understanding of words and sentences in conversations or written text. Expressive Language refers to the use of words and sentences to share ideas and feelings. Children with Receptive and Expressive Language Disorders may have difficulty understanding the meaning of words, gaining new vocabulary, answering questions, and formulating grammatical sentences. Children may also have difficulty with social and emotional communication skills. They may have difficulty following social rules of language, interacting with others, using or understanding facial expressions, gestures, intonation, or sarcasm. Some children may suffer from Selective Mutism, a social anxiety disorder making it difficult to speak in social or new situations.
In early stages of development, children are learning important speech and language skills that are necessary for learning how to read and write. Phonological awareness is an area of spoken language that is strongly connected to early reading and writing. Research has shown that children with speech disorders may be at a higher risk for reading difficulties in the future as they may also experience difficulty with auditory, phonological, and verbal memory skills. Speech-Language Pathologists play an important role in helping children develop emergent literacy skills by identifying children at risk and providing appropriate intervention.
Some children may have problems in different stages of the swallowing process. We help children that demonstrate difficulty with oral motor weakness, oral sensitivity, sucking, chewing, swallowing, food refusal, limited food intake, food selectivity, food pocketing, slow weight gain, and mealtime tantrums. We strongly believe that the most crucial component to improving feeding skills is to establish trust and confidence by providing children with positive and pleasurable experiences with food.