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Thursday, July 23, 2015

smart & savvy kids - Speech Therapy - Susanne Payeur

Thank you to Susanne Payeur for answering our questions about her job as a Speech and Language Pathologist. Great tips for helping your child develop language - reading, asking questions, etc. 

Great information, thanks, Susanne!


How long have you been a Speech Language Pathologist/Therapist (is there a difference between these two titles?)? What made you want to do this job?
I graduated with my Masters Degree in May 2011 and began working as a Speech-Language Pathologist about a week after graduation.  I worked until I had my son in January 2014 however have been maintaining my certification so if I ever need to, I can jump right back in!  

I believe the difference between an SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) and a Speech Therapist is that an SLP has their Master’s Degree and a Speech Therapist has their bachelor’s degree.  Years ago, you could practice in the field with a bachelors degree in some states but now, you would have a very challenging time getting hired as a therapist.  A lot of therapists have kind of been grandfathered in because of how long they have been in their field but they do not have the credentials to bill insurance companies so that's a red flag right there for someone hiring!  However, I will say that when people ask what I do for work, I often say I am a speech therapist because pathologist is too long to say sometimes haha

My grandfather had a few strokes and I watched him go through the recovery process each time… and each time it included some time with a speech pathologist.  I looked into the program at the University of Maine at Orono and decided it sounded right for me!

What is Speech Therapy / Speech and Language Pathology? Can you explain it for the average mom who may not be familiar with it? 
The field of speech pathology is actually very broad.  We work with people birth- geriatric and our areas within the field include swallowing disorders, (i.e. a baby born with cleft palate or an adult who had a stroke and may have lost some of their swallowing function or an adult with Parkinson who needs strategies to swallow safely as their condition progresses over time, etc.) speech impairments (stutters, not pronouncing sounds correctly, etc), language impairments (children with delayed language development, grammar trouble, Aphasia following neuro incident, word-finding issues, etch), cognitive/neurological conditions (teens following concussions, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, etch), voice therapy (damaged vocal folds due to yelling, teaching, talking all day; a lot of famous musicians have seen SLPs for voice therapy... sometimes we are referred to as voice therapists), social-pragmatic skills (appropriate social interactions), etc.  

What symptoms or signs in a child's development, behavior, and speaking, etc. might a mom notice that would signify a child needing some Speech support? When is it time to seek out professional help?
The sooner the better for early intervention.  This is a hard one because there is such a range for appropriate speech development. I would recommend that a parent listen to their words- are they picking them up after being exposed to them a few times? Using them on their own? As they get old (4,5,6) are they starting to pronounce all sounds correctly? If not, can they imitate them correctly after you show them? 

Books, a lot of language, increased exposure to things (let them explore and talk to them about what they are seeing!!!) are great ways to try to get your kiddos on the right track for language.  

What types of things does a Speech professional work with children on? 
Speech disorders (articulation impairment, Apraxia), Language disorders (expressive and receptive), social skills, reading and writing disorders


What are some examples speech concerns kids might have, and what are some suggestions for parents to support their child with those concerns? 
Hmmm….I guess one example would be if a child had a hard time pronouncing a sound (maybe /s/ or /r/) and they were receiving therapy for it, I would recommend that the therapy continue at home for about 15-20 minutes for carry over.…children can become very self-conscious as they get older and notice that their speech doesn't sound the same as their friends.  Similarly..…. reading and writing support in the home to help carry over the progress/

What are some typical timeframes for kids to develop speech, milestones they should hit?
Good reference for parents http://www.asha.org/public/

What are some great resources you know are available to parents - books, Web sites, Facebook pages to follow, local organizations, etc. ? 


mommyspeechtherapy.com is a great website! A lot of info and exercises to do with your child

9. What is your favorite part about being a Speech professional? 
I actually loved working with the kids whose parents would come into sessions and be a part of the therapy process.  Those were usually the kids that were dismissed from speech the quickest because they made such great progress! You get to work with babies, children, teens, young adults, and the older population…. nothing boring about that!

10. What is something that is challenging for parents of children with speech needs? How do you encourage them to get through those challenges?
I think every hurdle is a challenge for them… my advice would be to keep pushing forward and encourage progress at home- therapy is usually an hour or 2 a week… that is not a lot of time compared to the time at school or home so "therapy" should take place everywhere!

11. What are your top 3 tips for helping kids with speech concerns? 


Practice, practice, practice!!!! It will come!
Don't be embarrassed or ashamed… most don't realize how common the issues are

12. What can parents do every day to help their kids develop a strong sense of language? 


Read to them, place them in strong rich language environments, talk to your kids, ask questions and let them answer, point things out.

13. Lots of families talk about their children stuttering at various points, especially at the toddler to preschool years. Can you explain a little about this, is it common, and what parents should do when they hear it in their children? 
Stuttering is something I would monitor during this stage because a lot of children appear as though they are stuttering but often times they are fumbling over their words because they are learning so many new words during this time that their brain and mouths are on overload.  If their is a family history of stuttering than that is a different story and I would mention it to the pediatrician who would make appropriate recommendation

14. Anything else you think would be helpful or that you want to share? 
Monitor your child.... everyone is different so don't freak out of they are doing something differently than the kid next door.  Watch them, see if they progress, encourage them, teach them.... if your concern still remains- then discuss it with your pediatrician.

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