Speech-Language Pathology
Treatments and Services

Programs and Services

Speech-language pathology services at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center include comprehensive diagnostic evaluations, consultations, parent counseling, and treatment for children with communication or feeding / swallowing disorders.

Because each child’s needs are unique, our staff consists of specialists in all areas of the field. Therefore, each child is evaluated and treated by an expert in his or her specific disorder.

Following an evaluation and determination of the problem, our speech-language pathologists develop an individualized plan of care. This may include a recommendation of individual therapy or group therapy. Those children who do not have the physical prerequisites for speech may be trained to use an augmentative communication device.

We consider family members to be an integral member of the treatment team. Therefore, family members are asked to observe sessions through our closed-circuit system in order to learn how to work with your child at home. Additional instructions for practice between sessions are given after each session.

The scope of practice for speech-language pathologists includes communication sciences and disorders and upper aerodigestive disorders. The following are general categories of the common disorders we treat:

  • Language disorder − Characterized by difficulty understanding language or following directions, or the inability to choose appropriate words and combine them correctly for sentences.
  • Articulation disorder (speech) Characterized by the inability to produce individual speech sounds, or difficulty combining sounds correctly for words that are clear. Speech sounds may be incorrectly substituted (“tun” for sun), omitted (“ool” for school) or distorted (“shlun” for sun).
  • Fluency disorder (stuttering) Characterized by an abnormal amount of involuntary repetitions, hesitations, prolongation, blocks or disruptions in the natural flow or rhythm of speech. This is often accompanied by secondary characteristics (tics and other movements).
  • Voice disorder Characterized by abnormal pitch, loudness, quality or resonance.
  • Feeding or swallowing disorder (dysphagia) Characterized by difficulty with normal feeding or swallowing.

See Scope of Practice of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Based on the evaluation results, the treating speech-language pathologist develops an individualized treatment plan to target the specific difficulties that the child is experiencing. Therapy is usually provided individually. In some cases, however, group therapy is most beneficial for the child. The model of therapy (individual or group) and the frequency of therapy are always determined by considering the specific needs of the child and the family.
In each therapy session, the goal is to help the child perform a certain task or tasks. Once the child is able to perform the task, frequent practice at home is essential. Therefore, parents are important members of the child’s treatment team.
To teach parents how to work with their child at home, we encourage them to observe all treatment sessions through our closed-circuit system and to record sessions for review at home. In addition, we give them specific instructions on working with their child between sessions. The more the child practices between sessions, the faster progress will be with therapy. Regular therapy attendance is also important so that there is no disruption in the progress.
The length of therapy and ultimate success depends partly on the cause and severity of the problem. However, the most important predictor of success with therapy is the frequency in which prescribed activities are practiced at home.

Before the evaluation, we gather information regarding the child’s medical and developmental history and review the concerns of the physician.

During the evaluation, the speech-language pathologist gathers additional information from family members, observes the child’s communication interactions, and administers standardized formal tests.

The speech-language pathologist thoroughly explains to the family members and makes specific recommendations for treatment, if needed. Occasionally, the child will be referred to other specialists for assessment or treatment. Finally, information is given to to the family about how to work with the child at home.

Because children with chronic or complex conditions have multiple medical needs, we take an interdisciplinary approach to care. Our speech-language pathologists work closely with the child’s physicians and other healthcare providers. We often provide co-treatment sessions for the child with other disciplines. Children who are seen by many specialists may be followed by one of our interdisciplinary teams, clinics or programs, which include the following:

Our clinical specialists pass additional competencies in specific areas and participate on specialty teams to continue to develop their high level of expertise. Our specialty teams keep up with the literature and the latest techniques and often contribute to the literature for the education of others. Our specialty teams include:

  • Apraxia of speech
  • Auditory processing disorders (APD)
  • Augmentative communication (AC)
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Down syndrome
  • Early intervention (EI)
  • Feeding and swallowing disorders
  • Fluency disorders (stuttering)
  • Hearing loss and deafness
  • Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD)
  • Pediatric rehabilitation
  • Resonance
  • Voice 

For more information about these and other speech-related conditions, visit our Health Topics.

Joanna's Story

Joanna has apraxia, a motor speech disorder that makes it hard for her brain to coordinate the movements necessary to make words. Watch her story:

Health Information

Speech Pathology at Cincinnati Children's.
Read more about speech conditions and diagnoses. Health Topics

Research Efforts

We engage in research across multiple conditions, including voice and voice disorders, feeding and swallowing issues, resonance disorders and VPI, and speech / language disorders. Read More