Speech-Language Therapy

Information for families

How do you know if your child could benefit from speech-language therapy? What will your child learn in speech therapy?952.548.8700

Recognizing Speech Problems in Children

According to St. David's Center speech therapists, a referral for speech and language observation may be warranted if a child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Does not imitate vocalizations or actions
  • Has limited non-verbal communication
  • Displays a limited variety of communication intents
  • Has a limited frequency and variety of sounds or sound combinations in repertoire
  • Becomes easily frustrated when speech is not understood
  • Exhibits visual groping and/or tension when attempting to imitate sounds/words
  • Stutters over words for more than a few weeks, begins to repeat or prolong parts of words and shows signs of awareness or tension
  • Does not follow direction, even when there are contextual cues
  • Is not attempting to put words together in short phrases and sentences after the age of two

Speech-Language Skills

Once your child receives services, our licensed speech-language pathologists can help with many skills. 

Whole Body Listening

It is easy to tell a child to “sit still and listen” but often really hard for them to actually do that! Listening isn’t just hearing with your ears, it involves the brain and body including using social cognitive and sensory processing skills. Whole Body Listening Strategies teach children what they need to do in order to use their brain and body successfully and can include things like keeping your eyes on the speaker, removing distractions from the work space, and getting your body calm and ready to learn by using things like fidgets. It can even include helping children to “listen with their heart” to care about what the speaker is saying. 


Spoken language and it subsystems – phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics – have an impact on literacy. Children who struggle with morphological awareness might have difficulty segmenting words into syllables, identifying or producing rhyming words, identifying individual sounds in words, blending sounds to make words, or segmenting words into their individual sounds. Children who struggle with morphology and syntax might have difficulty learning that changing a part of a word or the order of words in a sentence can change the meaning, and they might also have difficulties with spelling. If the subsystem of semantics is impaired, then learning new vocabulary and understanding relationships between words (categorization, comparision, contrast, etc.) can be hard. From learning which letters represent which sounds to being able to identify the main idea of a paragraph and recall the supporting details, language impacts reading at all stages.

Pragmatic Language

We have all been embarrassed by our toddler in the grocery store or at a family meal when they say something they shouldn’t like, “Why is he fat? Did he eat too many cookies?”. It can be developmentally appropriate for children to make these kinds of statements when they are still learning how to use language appropriately in social situations, but some children have not mastered the rules for social language known as pragmatics. Pragmatics involve three major communication skills: 1) using language for different purposes; 2) changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation; and 3) following the rules for conversations and storytelling. 


“My son talks so loud and he is starting to sound hoarse, what is happening?” or “Why does it sound like my daughter has a cold?” If you have asked these questions, your child might have a voice disorder. A speech therapist can help identify what might be causing the problem and teach good habits for a child to use to care for his/her voice. Just learning to monitor shouting, screaming, whispering, throat clearing or patterns related to allergies may help.

Play Skills

“She’s a good therapist but all she does is play with my child.” Sometimes it looks like we are just having fun, keeping a child busy, or entertaining them, however, play is critical for developing cognitive, language, social-emotional and motor skills. Play experiences facilitate productive and appropriate social interactions with peers and adults and provide learning opportunities. Through play, children learn how to learn.

Read more about speech and language development

Visit our Parenting Tips & Tools section for more about speech and language development. See also:

Learn More

To learn more or find out about getting services, please contact our Central Office of Resources and Enrollment (CORE) at 952.548.8700 or coreinfo@stdavidscenter.org.   

Site developed by Creed Interactive - Minneapolis Web Design | Photography by Josh Hackney Photography; James Schwartz, SchwartzPictures; and Leslie Kellum Photography.