What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is an expert in communication who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of Speech Sound Disorders, Language Disorders, Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder, Voice Disorder, Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering,) and Feeding and Swallowing Disorder. Speech-language pathologists work collaboratively with other professionals (teachers, occupational therapists, educational psychologists, learning facilitators, etc.) to help with diagnosis and treatment of a variety of disorders.
How do we support students?
In Holy Family School Division, a speech-language pathologist may work with a child in a variety of settings that follow the Response to Intervention (RtI) tiers of support. A child may be supported in one or multiple tiers at the same time.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for the child to correctly make syllables and words. In order to produce speech, messages are sent from the brain to the mouth. These messages communicate to the muscles and control how and when they move to make these sounds. Children with CAS have problems with the motor planning of the speech mechanism, and they are not able to send these messages from the brain to the mouth correctly. This results in difficulty moving the lips, tongue, jaw, and palate properly to produce speech sounds, even though they do not have any weakness in these muscles.
Handout: Childhood Apraxia of Speech
AAC is a way to share feelings and thoughts that does not use speech. The goal is for the child to have effective and interactive communication. Augmentative and alternative communication have slightly different definitions:
Augmentative communication refers to someone who has some speech, but it is limited due to unintelligibility. Intelligibility is a measure of how well an individual’s speech is understood by others. In this case, other modes of communication are used to supplement what the person can say verbally.
Alternative communication is used when a person has no speech and must rely on other methods to get their message across.
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is sometimes referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD.) APD is a difficulty with recognizing and interpreting sound. This means that there is typically no issue with “hearing,” but the difficulty lies with the auditory system not bringing what is heard to the brain correctly.
Signs and symptoms vary by child and may include:
- Difficulty listening or distinguishing speech sounds, particularly in noisy environments
- Not hearing words properly or confusing words that sound similar
- More success in a quiet environment Trouble with reading
- Attention span that appears short
- Difficulty following directions that are given verbally, especially multi-step directions
- Withdrawing from conversation
- May appear to ignore people who are speaking to them
- Language delay
- Frustration/behavioural difficulties
- Memory difficulties
- Need extra time to process
- Academic difficulties with reading, comprehension, spelling, and/or vocabulary
- Possible history of chronic ear infections
- Needing instructions repeated
- Using a monotone voice or less inflection when speaking
- Bothered by loud or sudden noises
- Being upset in a noisy environment
Handout: Auditory Processing Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects behaviour and development. It has an impact that affects a child’s communication, social, and play skills. This condition is related to brain development and also includes limited and/or repetitive patterns of behaviour. It begins in early childhood and children often show symptoms within the first year. There are a small number of children who seem to develop normally and then show a regression period from 18-24 months. Boys are affected much more often than girls.
It is important to note that previous labels, such as a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive development disorder - not otherwise specified, pervasive development disorder and high functioning autism, are now under the single umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. “Spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity of the condition. This means that each child with ASD is unique and has their own set of behaviour patterns and can be on the spectrum of low functioning to high functioning.
Handout: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Language is a system of communication (spoken or written) that has words put together in a structured and meaningful manner.
Receptive Language - Being able to understand language, such as what a word means or how the words go together to make meaning. Following directions and answering questions can be difficult if this is impaired.
Expressive Language - The use of language and putting it together properly. Being able to order the words properly (grammar) or knowing what words mean (vocabulary) are a part of that language use.
Language Processing - Being able to attach meaning to incoming information, deciding what it means, and coming out with a response that is appropriate.
Pragmatic Language - This refers to understanding and using social communication with others by knowing what to say and how to respond. This involves reading verbal and non-verbal cues.
Vocabulary, grammar, and storytelling are important skills that are critical for learning to read. Children who enter school without these abilities have a higher chance of having difficulty learning to read.
Phonology: Phonology is the study of the patterns of speech sounds in languages and how these sounds are made and used to form words and convey meaning.
- The "B" Sound
- The "CH" Sound
- The "D" Sound
- The "F" Sound
- The "G" Sound
- The "H" Sound
- The "J" Sound
- The "K" Sound
- The "I" Sound
- The "M" Sound
- The "N" Sound
- The "NG" Sound
- The "P" Sound
- The "R" Sound
- The "S" Sound
- The "SH" Sound
- The "T" Sound
- The "TH" Sound
- The "V" Sound
- The "W" Sound
- The "Y" Sound
- The "Z" Sound
- The ZH Sound
Stuttering is a speech disorder with frequent and significant problems with the flow of speech. People who stutter know what they want to say, but have a hard time saying it.
Stuttering can be common among children around 2-5 years old as a normal part of learning to speak. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren't developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering; however, stuttering can be chronic and persist through childhood and into adulthood. Males are more likely to stutter than females.
Meet Our Holy Family Speech-Language Pathologists
Amy was born and raised in southern Saskatchewan. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Regina in 2006, followed by her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Alberta in 2008. Amy has worked with the Holy Family School Division since 2008. She is registered with the Saskatchewan Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (SASLPA) and is also a certified member of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC.)
Amy has had the opportunity to work with students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9, in a wide variety of areas including language delays/disorders, speech delays/disorders, autism, neurological disorders, genetic disorders, and developmental delays. She particularly enjoys working on language development in the areas of social communication, narrative development, and alternative and augmentative communication.
Jessi was born and raised in Estevan, Saskatchewan. She completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics from the University of Regina in 2007, followed by a Bachelor of General Studies Degree in Communication Disorders in 2008, and then her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology in 2010. Jessi previously worked for the health region as a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and began working part-time with the Holy Family School Division in the fall of 2019. She is registered with the Saskatchewan Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (SASLPA).
Jessi enjoys working with children of all ages and is excited about continuing to grow her knowledge within the school setting. She loves the diverse nature of the education system and the constantly evolving variety of speech and language delays/disorders within this population. Jessi feels blessed to be interacting with the wonderful students, parents, and staff members at Holy Family. She loves being able to work and raise her family in her hometown.