Helping Talk Gooder

Areas of Need Treated by Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists

(by Michelle Turkoglu)

When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them, “I’m a speech-language pathologist”, I get a lot of follow-up questions as to what that means or questions about what kinds of cases I may treat or the places where I work. I’ve even found that professionals in related fields such as teachers and doctors are unsure of what a speech-therapist might work on. I think the term “speech-therapist” makes people think that we work on helping people make sounds correctly or help people who stutter. And while those are definitely areas that we treat, “speech and language” covers all areas of human communication. Please check out the following list for a summary of areas that are commonly treated by pediatric Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). However, experience with certain types of diagnoses or disorders can vary greatly between therapists, so when seeking help from a speech-language pathologist, be sure to ask if he or she is comfortable treating the areas that you are concerned about.


  • Articulation (how words are pronounced)
  • Fluency/Stuttering
  • Voice (vocal quality such as hoarseness or nasality)
  • Volume & Rate (talking too quietly or too loudly or speaking very slowly or too quickly)
  • Apraxia: Usually first observed in young children and is characterized by very little or limited speaking, difficulty in saying words even in repetition, articulation errors that don’t follow a set pattern as seen in phonological disorders or developmental articulation disorders, oral-groping (visible difficulty of the mouth getting out words)
  • Phonological Disorders (patterns of speech errors such as dropping off sounds at the beginning or end of words or dropping one of the consonants in a consonant blend).


  • Vocabulary (nouns, verbs, adjectives, categorical labels, multiple meaning words, etc.)
  • Following Directions
  • Grammar & Syntax
    1. Word order/Sentence Formulation
    2. Pronouns
    3. Subject-Verb Agreement
    4. Verb Tenses
    5. Plurals vs Singular
  • Describing
  • Understanding and Answering Questions
  • Using language for a wide variety of purposes (greetings/farewells, requesting, commenting, negotiating, etc.)
  • Inference
  • Nonliteral Language/Idioms 


  • Nonverbal Language (eye contact, appropriate body spatial awareness, appropriate body posture when speaking to someone, understanding & “reading” body language and facial expressions)
  • Conversational Skills (take turns talking, stay on topic, answer and ask questions, use appropriate nonverbal language, etc.)
  • Appropriate Play Skills (be a good sport, learning to win and lose graciously, etc.)


  •  Rote memory (remember a series of numbers or words)
  • Working Memory (holding onto information in order to complete a task or use that information in some way)
  • Attention (maintain attention & stay focused, block out distractions, and know how and when to seek help/clarification)
  • Recalling details to answer questions (i.e. listening to a sentence, a few sentences, or even paragraphs and be able to recall details)
  • Processing language of increased length and complexity
  • Speech Language Pathologists teach students strategies for being able to hold onto information and process information better. These strategies include teaching kids to: subvocalize (say the words back to themselves), visualize (make a mental picture of a word, sentence, sentences), chunk (group a list of numbers or words together as in a phone number), clip (understand the key details and “pull out” these words to subvocalize or visualize).


  • Excessive drooling or drooling past 2-3 years old
  • Speech difficulties that haven’t improved
  • Difficulty with eating or drinking (picky eaters, coughing/choking during eating/drinking, avoiding foods, etc.)


Phonological/Phonemic awareness (which is the understanding of a word’s sound structure)- These skills are needed for the efficient decoding of printed words and the ability to form connections between sounds and letters when spelling



For children with limited or no verbal speech, a Speech Language Pathologist can help find other ways to communicate such as sign language, picture exchange communication (PECS), computer-based devices, etc.

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