Pediatric Speech Therapy: What Is It?

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Kids with speech and language delays, as well as their parents, can benefit significantly from pediatric speech therapy.

Of course, that’s not even the half of it, since this specialty also deals with the root causes of communication challenges.

Today, we will discuss speech therapy for kids at length, including the professionals who administer it and the three key areas they work to improve.

What Does a Pediatric Speech Therapist Do?

A pediatric speech therapist or pediatric speech language pathologist works to help kids communicate effectively.

They help kids improve their verbal and non-verbal communication skills as well as their swallowing and feeding abilities.

Often, they bring toys, such as baby dolls, into the equation, have your little one pretend to feed, name, and talk to them to improve the way they articulate sounds.

Areas Pediatric Speech Therapists Work to Improve

In addition to the duties mentioned, speech therapists for children also work on boosting these three aspects: receptive language, speech, and expressive language.

Receptive Language

Receptive language deals with a child’s ability to understand and process information.

Basically, therapists work on this area of communication by telling a child he or she has to “pick up the milk bottle and give it to mommy,” for example.

So, a child has to take in the following:

  • What a milk bottle is
  • Who mommy is
  • What action has to be done


The “speech” area deals with a child’s voice disorders, stutters, and articulation.

Therapists work to improve all these areas so that your late-talking toddler’s words and phrases can be understood better.

Expressive Language

Expressive language centers on the combination of words to form phrases and sentences.

This helps your child communicate their needs and wants outwardly, as well as share information.

A therapist will work to get your child to say, “I want a toy, mama,” instead of just “toy.”

Related: Expressive Language Delay and How to Deal With It

How Does a Child Qualify for Speech Therapy?

If your child’s school tells you he or she doesn’t qualify for speech therapy, you’ll naturally be upset.

However, before you give the school a piece of your mind (and we don’t blame you one bit for wanting to), you need to understand the possible reasons why your little one didn’t qualify.

You would also want to learn what can be done about it.

Speech and language therapy classifies as special education.

And each state has a different set of criteria for special education you must learn about.

Schools need these requirements met so they can be reimbursed by the state for providing such services.

Instead of going over the lengthy requirements for pediatric speech therapy, let’s keep things succinct by focusing on the three simple reasons your child may not have qualified:

Developmental Speech Delays That Get Better

Kids who operate on their own speech time table are perfectly normal.

So, if your four-year-old fumbles on the letter R or constantly mispronounces the letter Z, that’s usually not something to worry about.

Most kids won’t be able to pronounce these sounds correctly until age seven, so language therapy may be out of the question until then.

In addition, therapists in some schools may classify your child as part of the 70 percent who eventually outgrow their expressive language delays.

As such, they may not consider them a priority for their services.

While there is a good chance the professionals are right about your child operating on their own calendar, many parents won’t take too well at their child’s future being placed in the hands of a statistic.

pediatric speech therapy

Shows Speech Delay Signs at Home Only

Some parents are baffled by this, but it happens more times than you think.

This is your child feeling the pressure to fit in with everyone else.

Your preschooler’s classmates might have teased them about their pronunciation of the letter R, which made them work on saying the letter correctly all day long.

Since the home is a safe environment, your child won’t feel the need to maintain the charade and fall back into old habits.

Still, it is crucial to remember that while the desire to fit in is a powerful catalyst for change, it’s never a healthy reason to do so.

Make sure your child learns this so that he or she doesn’t experience the mental and emotional repercussions of changing for the wrong reasons.

Speech Issues That Don’t Impact Learning

If your child is doing well in school despite his communication issues, then he or she may not qualify for speech therapy for kids.

Talk to your little one’s teacher to see which areas he or she is performing well in and what areas are a challenge.

If your child’s mentor understands them correctly and their peers aren’t confused by what they are saying, chances are they won’t qualify for speech and language therapy.

What To Do if Your Child Doesn’t Qualify

If your gut tells you children speech pathology services are necessary despite the school telling you otherwise, consider using these solutions:

Ask the school why.

If your child’s paperwork doesn’t state the reason he or she didn’t qualify, ask the school why.

Just because the school declined to provide services doesn’t automatically mean your child is without speech delay.

He or she could still have it; it just might not be serious enough to meet the criteria set for special education in your state.

Request for a reassessment.

The school could have made a mistake.

Maybe your child’s evaluator misheard how he or she pronounced his Rs and Ls and didn’t consider it too big an issue to not be outgrown.

Or, it could be that the one assessing failed to listen to the right sound.

As previously mentioned, your child could speak well at school and go back to mispronouncing specific words at home.

If you can’t find yourself agreeing with the school’s decision, it’s perfectly okay to ask for a reassessment.

Find other solutions.

Your child’s school isn’t the only one providing children speech pathology services.

Try doing your research or asking the school’s therapist for professional recommendations.

Your health insurance company should be able to help, as well.

Parents navigating the public school evaluation process know how overwhelming it can be.

The special education system is so hard to traverse that it makes sense for you to connect with someone going through the same process.

You can form bonds with parent advocates or liaisons for special education.

How Much Do Speech Therapy Sessions Cost?

One of the first things you do after being told your child needs speech therapy is to redraft your monthly budget.

How much should be allocated to therapy?

Finding the answer to this question is far from an easy process.

Some therapists don’t make their hourly charge known, as the fee can vary depending on a number of factors.

Some of these factors include:

  • Patient’s location
  • Place of delivery
  • Mode of payment (whether or not you’re using insurance)
  • Coverage of insurance

On average, the 2020 price range for speech therapy services is $100 to $250.

Of course, insurance can offset this cost significantly.

If you’re looking for specific figures, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a provider.

You want to give them your insurance information to get an accurate estimate of how much needs to be paid directly from your pocket.

How Pediatric Speech Therapy Helps

Each child goes through a unique journey. For this reason, speech therapy always starts with an initial assessment.

This determines the best course of action for your little one.

Plans and interventions will be shaped around their specific communication problems and feeding and swallowing disorders.

Speech language pathologists never fail to infuse fun and laughter into every session, especially for your youngsters.

Working on targeted sounds while playing with toys can make sessions fun and therapeutic for kids.

These professionals also target functioning objectives and receptive language in a way that’s fun and motivating.

In this way, your youngster finds it easier to follow directions and recall events.

While pediatric speech therapists arm families with the tools necessary to improve their child’s speech and language skills, it’s ultimately the way those tools are utilized at home that makes a lasting difference.

Related: Picture Scenes Speech Therapy and How to Use It at Home