FAQ’s

GENERAL:
  1. Is there a difference between speech therapy, speech pathology, speech-language therapy, speech therapist, speech clinician, speech language pathologist, etc.?
  2. What types of therapy does a Speech-Language Pathologist provide?
  3. Should we be evaluated?
  4. What are some reasons a person may need speech therapy?
  5. What can we, as parents/caregivers, do to help?
  6. How often should we attend therapy?
  7. Do you participate with insurance?
  8. What ages of patients do you see?
PEDIATRIC:
  1. Is my child too young for therapy?
  2. What skills should my child have at his/her age?
  3. Do you offer screenings?
  4. What about ear infections?
  5. What about prolonged thumb sucking and pacifier use?
  6. What about “sippy cups”?
ADULT:
  1. Is there a time limit for how long a person can respond to therapy?
  2. What are some “at risk” signs that I may be developing a swallow problem?
  3. Tell me about exercise.
  4. Is there anything I can do to exercise my eating, swallowing, voice, and breathing muscles?
  5. What about exercising my brain?
GENERAL
  1. Is there a difference between speech therapy, speech pathology, speech-language therapy, speech therapist, speech clinician, speech language pathologist, etc.?
    NO, all of these terms are interchangeable. No matter which of the above terms you hear or use, speech – language pathologists are trained and licensed to provide services for, but not limited to , the diagnosis and treatment of communication, voice, cognitive, oral motor, and swallowing/feeding disorders in people of all ages. 
  2. What types of therapy does a Speech-Language Pathologist provide?
    • Speech Sound Production: articulation/pronunciation, apraxia
    • Voice: injured, professional, voice enhancement
    • Fluency: stuttering, stammering, cluttering
    • Language: comprehension/receptive, expressive, reading, writing, prelinguistic communication (infant level)
    • Cognition: attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, executive functioning, pragmatics
    • Feeding and Swallowing: including tongue thrust
    • Motor: oral, laryngeal, respiratory

     

  3. Should we be evaluated?
    If you are concerned, there may be a valid reason. It is worth a phone call to discuss your concern and to see if an evaluation is warranted. An evaluation does NOT always indicate a need for therapy. 
  4. What are some reasons a person may need speech therapy?

    Potential causes of communication, cognition, and swallowing disorders include:

    • Neonatal Problems: (e.g., prematurity, low birth weight, substance exposure)
    • Developmental Disabilities: (e.g., specific language impairment, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder)
    • Auditory Problems: (e.g., hearing loss or deafness, central auditory processing disorders)
    • Oral Anomalies: (e.g., cleft lip/palate, dental malocclusion, macroglossia, oral-motor dysfunction)
    • Respiratory compromise: (e.g., bronchopulmonary dysplasia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, speech breathing problems)
    • Pharyngeal anomalies: (e.g., upper airway obstruction, velopharyngeal insufficiency/incompetence)
    • Laryngeal anomalies and procedures: (e.g., vocal fold pathology (bumps or lumps on vocal folds), tracheal stenosis, tracheostomy)
    • Neurological Disease/Dysfunction: (e.g., traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, cerebral vascular accident, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
    • Genetic Disorders: (e.g., Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, velocardiofacial syndrome).

     

  5. What can we, as parents/caregivers, do to help?
    You, as parents/caregivers are the most important key to your loved one’s success because you are with them in their daily lives. You are invited to attend portions of the therapy sessions. During that time you watch the clinician work with your loved one and your clinician will teach you how to practice that session, at home in your everyday environment, between therapy visits. 
  6. How often should we attend therapy?
    There is strong research supporting “frequency” of therapy is key to skill acquisition. The number of sessions per week depends upon each person’s diagnoses and needs, but our general rule of thumb is two times per week with home practice between therapy visits. 
  7. Do you participate with insurance?
    Yes, we are participating providers with most insurance companies including Medicare and Medicaid (Maryland & Washington D.C.). Please contact your insurance company to find out about your benefits. Look under the “Insurance” tab (insert link) for specific questions to ask when you call. 
  8. What ages of patients do you see?
    We see a variety of patients, ranging from newborn through geriatrics. 
PEDIATRIC
  1. Is my child too young for therapy?
    We are firm believers in early intervention when indicated by the diagnosis. Communication starts at birth or before. There are many early milestones to be mastered before the first word. The window for language development is open widest between birth and three years – take advantage of it! 
  2. What skills should my child have at his/her age?
    There is a range of normal and there are many different domains that are not limited to speech and language. Some other areas include interaction-attachment, oral motor, feeding/swallowing, cognition which includes play, social skills and interacting, attention, and memory.

    The best plan is to allow us to perform an evaluation with one of the following results:

    • No therapy is necessary; your child is performing within the normal limits
    • No therapy is necessary; let’s watch your child and re-evaluate in 3 – 6 months
    • Therapy is recommended

     

  3. Do you offer screenings?
    A complete evaluation will give us the most information regarding your child’s strengths and weaknesses. However, we do offer speech, language, and hearing screenings. Please call our office for more information. 
  4. What about ear infections?
    Ear infections (Otitis Media) are one of the typical causes of disorders requiring speech-language and even attention therapy (NOT attention deficit). Otitis Media during the critical speech and language acquisition period can cause a conductive hearing loss and can impair a child’s ability to correctly detect speech sounds, thus impeding his/her ability to perceive the intonation of language. Often high frequency sounds are not heard and these can be grammatical markers (e.g. plural “s” and past tense “ed”). The effects of ear infections can negatively impact a child’s detection and production of sounds long after the infections have been resolved. The reduced hearing sensitivity that can be caused as a result of Otitis Media can also negatively affect a child’s ability to acquire normal attenion skills. This can happen because the message the child is hearing can be distorted so he/she may tune out and learn how not to attend, thus, not acquire adequate listening and attending skills. 
  5. What about prolonged thumb sucking and pacifier use?
    When children are infants they require extra suckling beyond “feeding” and use of a pacifier or thumb sucking is the way the infant fulfills that need. Beyond infancy thumb sucking and pacifier use can have a negative impact on a child’s development of normal tongue and mouth strength and use. This is because the thumb or pacifier holds the tongue down and prevents your child’s tongue from getting the normal exercise, range of movement and contact with the alveolar ridge (the gum ridge right behind the top teeth). Tongue tip contact with the alveolar ridge is important for several speech sounds and is a normal tongue resting posture (the position of the tongue in the mouth when not speaking or eating). Thumb sucking and prolonged pacifier use can also contribute to a tongue thrust swallowing disorder. 
  6. What about “sippy cups”?
    Sippy cup use can cause a tongue thrust or reverse swallow. This is when the tongue comes forward instead of staying on the roof of the mouth and squeezing the food back toward the throat. Why? Because a sippy cup facilitates the same mouth and tongue movement an infant uses to suckle a nipple. By 6 months and sometimes earlier, a child is ready to use an open cup. Drinking from a cup facilitates the transition from the infantile suckle to the mature swallow pattern. If a parent wants to avoid spilling, there are cups with lids and slits in the lids. 
ADULT
  1. Is there a time limit for how long a person can respond to therapy?
    NO, as long as you are doing a therapy that works for your brain – there is no time limit. Several research studies have been done on individuals who had a stroke 10 or more years prior to the research study and improved their skills through the therapy provided.

    There is historical and ongoing research about “brain plasticity.” This means that our brains can increase the representation of a skill if a person exercises that skill following specific guidelines. On the other hand, if a skill is not practiced, over time the brain representation of that skill diminishes. 

    Use it or lose it…Exercise to improve it!
  2. What are some “at risk” signs that I may be developing a swallowing problem?
    Swallowing problems develop in normal adults as part of the natural aging process causing muscle weakness and atrophy. Here are some behaviors to examine: 

    -Coughing or choking while eating or drinking, or up to a few hours after you finish.
    -Throat clearing while eating or drinking, or up to a few hours after you finish.
    -Increase in secretions related to eating or drinking (i.e., drippy nose).
    -Increase in body temperature related to eating or drinking.

    This list is not all inclusive and the best thing to do is contact us if you THINK you may be developing a swallowing problem. 

  3. Tell me about exercise.
    By now we all have heard how important exercise is to preserving the muscles in our body. Somewhere around ages 40 – 45 our muscles slowly start to atrophy and they weaken. That is why we exercise.
    The muscles that control our eating, swallowing, voice, and breathing go through that same aging process. These are the lifesaving muscles! They can contribute to swallowing disorders which may cause pneumonia; gravelly, old sounding voice that may be difficult to hear; and other problems. 
  4. Is there anything I can do to exercise my eating, swallowing, voice, and breathing muscles?
    Yes, we not only do therapy to RE-habilitate, we instruct in preventive exercises. 
  5. What about exercising my brain?
    There are special activities we teach to exercise:

    • 5 kinds of attention we need to function in our daily lives
    • Memory
    • Executive function: planning, organizing, predicting, etc.

     

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