Pediatric Speech and Language Therapy: What It is and How It Works 

Allyson Kempner, M.S. CCC-SLP is breaking down what speech and language therapy actually means and how it can help your kiddo.

Children receive speech therapy to help them communicate more effectively, focusing on both expressive and receptive language skills as well as articulation. It can be really helpful for kiddos to learn how to express their thoughts and understand what others say to them. Working with a speech-language pathologist, like Speech Street, can be really beneficial for the entire family to process and understand language better as a whole. 

On Speech Street, we have a team of speech therapists who conduct evaluations and private speech therapy sessions. We also use a team based approach, which includes parents, children, teachers, and other therapists throughout the entire process. We believe children learn best when they are motivated and engaged, which is why we create custom lesson plans that incorporate the child’s interest. We see progress made when students practice their speech and language goals at home throughout the week and have found that children respond best when they hear consistent language being used at home and in school. That’s why involving the parents, teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and guidance counselors is so crucial! 

Below are just some of the many skills we target during speech and language therapy sessions:


Articulation is the skill of forming clear speech sounds through precise tongue and lip movements. For example, if your child loves princesses, we create special speech sounds for princess crowns. As children grow and develop, they learn to articulate different sounds. Early speech sounds like /b/, /p/, and /m/ are typically mastered by 2-3 years old, while the more complex /r/ sound is usually mastered around 7 years old. If articulation issues persist past the typical developmental milestones, they may be classified as articulation disorders, requiring speech therapy for correction.

Expressive Language

Expressive language refers to the ability to communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs through vocalization, gestures, speech and writing. It encompasses various skills such as vocabulary development, sentence formation, organizing thoughts for coherent storytelling, using proper grammar, and conveying ideas in writing. Babies initially use crying and facial expressions for communication, eventually transitioning to verbal language and gestures. Speech therapists assist children in learning new gestures, words, phrases, and sentences to effectively express themselves.

Receptive Language

Receptive language pertains to how we comprehend and process spoken language. It includes learning new words, following directions, answering questions, categorizing items, understanding problem-solving, and recognizing cause-and-effect relationships. Babies begin to recognize their names around 6 months old and can follow simple commands like “give me milk” by 10-12 months. As children mature, they grasp more complex language structures. Receptive language disorders can affect listening and reading comprehension, the ability to follow directions, and vocabulary acquisition. Seeking help from a speech therapist is advisable if your child struggles with the above comprehension skills.

Social Language

Social language encompasses the use of language to engage in verbal and nonverbal interactions. These skills include taking turns, initiating conversations, sustaining them, sharing, interpreting facial expressions, and understanding others’ emotions. Babies exhibit social language skills through joint attention and games like “peekaboo.” As children grow, they apply these skills in more extended conversations, taking turns, and drawing inferences from stories. A social language disorder can hinder a child’s ability to build relationships, making speech therapy a valuable resource for addressing these challenges.

In addition to the above skills, speech therapists also address phonological processes, stuttering, feeding issues, literacy development, cognition, memory, and more. If you have any questions or need assistance with your child, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I am happy to help!


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