Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) diagnose and treat people who have communication, oral motor, and feeding/swallowing deficits. Communication deficits are primarily characterized by receptive language, the ability to comprehend information, and expressive language, the ability to formulate thoughts into words. Articulation and speech disorders refer to the ability to produce sounds and words fluently and intelligibly.
Oral motor skills refer to the ability to use and coordinate the lips, tongue, teeth, and jaw movements necessary for speech and feeding purposes. Feeding deficits include the ability to chew and swallow food safely and effectively, as well as to eat a wide variety of tastes and textures.
SLPs also work with Augmentative and Assistive Technology devices for those who require devices to communicate.
Occupational therapy is concerned with the child’s ability to participate in desired daily life activities or “occupations.” Occupational therapists use their unique expertise to help children prepare for and perform important learning and developmental activities. OTs support the achievement of developmental and learning outcomes for children with and without disabilities, by facilitating social skills development, motor development, emergent literacy, and the development of adaptive and self-care skills. OTs are particularly skilled in helping children access curricular activities by contributing to the design and planning of activities, including identifying any needed accommodations or modifications.
Pediatric physical therapy is provided to children who are experiencing functional limitations or disability due to a disorder, a disease process, or trauma. The goals of treatment are to diminish impairments and to prevent or decrease disability, while enhancing reflexes, improving tone, range of motion, and strength, as well as motor skills and functions. Treatment may be focused on improving developmental tasks, motor planning, manipulation skills, balance, and/or coordination.
The child may present with difficulties with positioning, ambulation, communication, attention, cognition, and/or motor function. The PT will: assess for range of motion, muscle tone and strength, determine the presence or absence of developmental reflexes, and a create a treatment plan to enhance motor function while decreasing the influence of any issues that would interfere with acquiring motor skills that are appropriate for your child’s age. Your PT will make recommendations regarding stretching and exercises, therapeutic handling, functional activities, seating and positioning, orthotics, and assisting devices.