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Mary Cranford, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. She is an ASHA certified and state licensed speech pathologist.  She has been with LSVI since 2012.








Speech-language pathology (also known as speech therapy) is the profession specializing in communication disorders. The speech pathologist (or speech therapist) works with students in the areas of speech production and language. Speech production includes: phonation (articulation or producing sounds and fluency); resonance; intonation and pitch; and voice. The components of language include: phonology (manipulating sound according to the rules of a language); morphology (understanding and using minimal units of meaning); syntax (constructing sentences by using languages' grammar rules); semantics (interpreting signs or symbols of communication to construct meaning); and pragmatics, (social aspects of communication).








Speech therapy in public schools is a related service under the IDEA. Eligibility for therapy services is determined based on whether the speech or language delay impacts the child academically. The speech pathologist will perform a screening to determine if further formal assessment is required. Assessment of speech and language can consist of informal (non-standard or criterion based) assessments, formal standardized tests, language sample analyses, and oral motor mechanism exam.  The recommendation for therapy will depend on the severity of the speech or language delay relative to the student’s overall functional ability and the degree to which the delay affects academic progress. Many times a perceived delay in articulation or language is, in fact, a simple developmental phase. Many speech sound (articulation) errors, for example, will self-correct as children mature. The speech therapist is trained to determine when speech or language is delayed beyond normal developmental errors.




Children might qualify for speech/language therapy if:




•They are not meeting the expected developmental milestones during the first 15-24 months of life (i.e., cooing, babbling, producing first word(s), putting two words together to produce phrases and short sentences)


• They have difficulty coordinating and planning oral motor movements (tongue, lips) to formulate sounds/syllables or have weak oral motor movements (i.e., weak jaw and/or tongue strength)


•They have articulation difficulties where their speech consists of substitutions ( i.e., “f” for “th,” “w” for “l”), distortions (i.e., the “s” sound may be a lisp or sounds messy), omissions (i.e., the word “cat” is produced “ca.”)


•They have weaknesses in receptive language skills or the ability to understand language. These difficulties may include the following: following simple directions, identifying spatial and temporal concepts, understanding prepositions, identifying antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning words, etc.


•They have weaknesses in expressive language skills or the ability to communicate through words, facial expressions, gestures, or other nonverbal forms. These difficulties may include the following: formulating grammatically correct sentences, expressing relationships between word meanings, vocabulary development/word finding, answering –wh- questions, sequencing, etc.


•They have difficulties in social situations, such as appropriate turn-taking skills, eye-contact, understanding a communication partner’s feelings, introducing and maintaining a topic, etc.


•They have a limited food repertoire or have a food repertoire that is limited to certain textures, such as puree.


•They have numerous dysfluencies where they may repeat a sound, word, or phrase before completing a sentence.


•They have poor vocal quality, such as a hoarse or weak voice as well as vocal nodules.






The primary goal of speech therapy is to improve communication – that is, to make sure your child can be understood in the classroom. Each child will have a different outcome depending on his or her particular developmental abilities. There are other benefits as well. These can include:




•Improvement in the ability to understand and express thoughts, ideas and feelings


•Intelligible speech so your child is understood by others


•Increased ability to problem-solve in an independent environment


•Achievement of school readiness skills


•Development of literacy skills


•Improved vocal quality


•Fluent speech


•Development of practical social skills


•Better quality of life


•Improved self-esteem


•Increased independence




The ability to express one’s self is a key to success in school. Speech therapy may help your child achieve a greater ability to use and understand language, to communicate with others, and to express himself or herself to the greatest extent possible. Speech therapy is also directly tied to literacy and therapy is often implemented in the classroom setting.








    The website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Click on the “The Public” link