It is quite common for children to experience communication challenges in adolescence, from difficulties with articulation, social communication skills, and everything in between. In some instances, there can seem to be a recurrence of issues that were thought previously resolved or “outgrown”. If you are the parent of a teenager, you may find yourself wondering if your child might benefit from speech therapy.
Experienced speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help teens overcome their communication challenges. In this article, we will explore the value of speech therapy for teens, what speech therapy for teenagers looks like, and how you can support your teen at home.
If you think your teen would benefit from speech therapy, don’t wait to get started. Simply schedule your free introductory call today!
Why Are Communication Skills Important for Teens?
Strong communication skills are essential for teens for a multitude of reasons. Effective communication is necessary in order to succeed academically, as they must be able to comprehend lectures and readings, write using proper language and grammar, and participate in class activities and discussions. Outside of the classroom, development of strong communication skills, sets your teen up to succeed in college & job interviews and to thrive in creating lasting relationships. A teen needs these skills in order to feel confident speaking or reading aloud, as well as to navigate social situations.
In addition, strong expressive and receptive language skills are needed in order to build positive relationships with family members, peers, and teachers. When a teenager has confidence in their ability to communicate, it is easier for them to feel connected to others.
Well-developed receptive and expressive language abilities are essential when building positive and meaningful relationships with peers and teachers. When a teenager has confidence in their ability to communicate effectively, it will be easier for them to connect with others.
Finally, excellent communication skills help prepare teens to succeed in the future. Most jobs require strong spoken language and comprehension skills. For many people, developing and mastering these skills can be a lifelong journey, so the sooner your child or teen works on improving these skills, the better their chances for success down the road.
What Age is Best for Speech Therapy?
The short answer is that speech & communication issues can be corrected at any age; however, most speech and language pathologists would agree that the earlier speech therapy starts for a child, the better the outcome. Many of the remediation steps in speech therapy involve correcting bad habits, and as we all know, bad habits can be hard to change. Many teens requiring speech therapy may have had previous speech therapy sessions as a child, and have fallen back into older habits. Working with a speech therapist as a teen can help revert those bad habits, improve their general language skills, as well as their articulation and social communication skills, which will boost their confidence and help them feel prepared for their present and future.
What are the Most Common Communication Issues in Teens?
Several different types of communication issues can occur in teens. These include:
Articulation Disorders – Articulation refers to the physical production of speech sounds. An articulation disorder can cause the mispronunciation of words, often making speech unclear.
Fluency (Stuttering) Disorder – A fluency disorder refers to any disruptions to the normal flow of speech. These disruptions typically include frequent sound, syllable, or word repetitions, prolongation of sounds, or interruptions in speech, also referred to as blocks.
Expressive Language Disorder – Expressive language disorders are defined as having difficulty or delay in learning to express ideas and thoughts through speech.
Receptive Language Disorder – Receptive language is defined as the ability to properly understand spoken language. A large number of teenagers have difficulty with their receptive language skills due to a variety of reasons, including developmental delays and hearing loss.
Social (Pragmatic) Language Disorder – Pragmatic language disorder is distinguished by an impairment in the ability to appropriately interact with others. A teen with a pragmatic language disorder may have difficulty using language to interact and connect with others. Some examples include challenges with eye contact, turn-taking during a conversation, understanding nonverbal communication (such as body language and tone of voice), and understanding idioms and common figures of speech. This type of disorder can cause difficulties with social skills.
If your teen is struggling with their communication skills, don’t wait to seek help. Getting started is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Causes Communication Disorders in Teens?
While it is not always possible to identify the cause of a communication disorder in teens, some of the most common causes include:
- Hearing impairment
- Genetic disorders such as Down’s Syndrome
- Premature birth or low birth weight
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Fragile X Syndrome
- Brain tumor
- Traumatic brain injury
- Developmental Delay
Speech Therapy Goals for Teenagers
Speech therapy for teenagers often includes a wide range of goals to help them develop strong communication skills and confidence. Because each child is unique, the speech pathologist will create a custom treatment plan that is tailored to the goals and individual needs of each individual. Some of the most common goals of speech therapy for teenagers are:
- Improving articulation skills
- Improving fluency
- Increasing vocabulary
- Improving expressive language skills
- Improving receptive language skills
- Improving social communication skills
Speech therapy is proven to be highly beneficial for teenagers with communication disorders as it not only helps to improve their speech and language skills but also their social skills and confidence.
What are Speech Therapy Sessions Like for Teens?
Speech therapy sessions for teenagers will vary depending on their individual needs. Each session is usually one-on-one and can be done virtually through Great Speech.
The speech therapist will work with your teenager to set large and small goals, but most importantly, they will design a treatment plan that’s catered to the teen’s interests or allows the teen to collaborate on their program. This plan might include a variety of activities, exercises, and games that will help your teen work on their communication skills. Speech therapists who work with adolescent children are experts in teenage speech and language development. Each session is designed to be fun and interactive while focusing on improving their communication skills.
A speech therapy treatment plan can be long or short-term, depending on the severity of the challenges.
Speech Therapy at Home for Your Teenager
There are many ways that you can promote strong language skills in middle school or high school-aged children at home. While consulting with a speech-language pathologist is always recommended, here are a few things you can practice at home:
Engage: Ask your child about their day at school while making strong eye contact to indicate they have your attention. Avoid “yes” and “no” questions to encourage your teen to answer with full, informative sentences.
Discuss: Try discussing news items, current events, music & movies, etc. Make a point to show interest in having your teen teach you about something you’re unfamiliar with. This is a good way to encourage your teen to share their ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
Read Together: Create your own mini book club to cultivate discussion and expand your teen’s vocabulary, as well as their literacy and comprehension..
Play: try playing board games together, especially ones that involve words such as Scrabble and Boggle.
Model: Above all, model good communication skills to your teen. Show them what good listening skills look like, as well as how to use non-verbal communication to express yourself.
Speech therapy is an ideal way to encourage your teenager to improve their speech, language, and social skills. If you think that your teenager would benefit from speech therapy, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!