Coping with a Speech Diagnosis: A Toolbox for Parents

Late bloomer or language problem?

Each child develops at an individual pace. Some children experience language delay. Other possible speech diagnoses included speech or language disorders.

Securing a speech diagnosis involves an evaluation by a licensed speech and language therapist. While the process will give you a definitive diagnosis and treatment options, parents may find this “toolbox” of suggestions helpful in successfully navigating this new experience.

  • Be curious. It is ok to request literature and ask questions about the diagnosis, type and frequency of speech therapy, estimated length of treatment as well as home exercises to reinforce treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, you may also want to request names of support groups in your area.
  • Explore your own feelings about the speech diagnosis. Sometimes the diagnosis is liberating, a reinforcement of a gut feeling you had. But even a minor speech issue can trigger feelings of inadequacy, anger, sadness or guilt. Those feelings are normal and sometimes just the acknowledgement is healing. Other times you may need to seek help from a family therapist.
  • Evaluate the diagnostic impact on your child. Sometimes a child is relieved to begin the process and address the issue. Other times, it is seen as a stigma. Find the right opportunity to explore your child’s feelings. Listening and validating are the key.
  • Observe family dynamics. Often a change in family dynamics, even a minor one, can trigger behavioral issues in the child or siblings. Anticipating a possible change is your best defense. Other parenting tools include maintaining consistency in routines, responsibilities and rules and consciously focusing on each family member’ strengths. Sometimes you can involve the whole family in the therapeutic process, though it is best to consult the therapist on best practices.

Most importantly, quality family time is essential for healthy social skills and language development. I am a big proponent of family dinners, outings and playing games as well as private time, both for couples and each child…because every interaction has infinite potential.

What has worked for you?

Photo by sean dreilinger

Sofia Robirosa is a Licensed Marriage and family therapist and owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services in Plantation, Florida. For more information, please visit her website

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The King’s Speech is a Common Problem

It didn’t take the movie “The King’s Speech” to bring the frustration of stuttering to the forefront. What it did is give it a “royal” boost. It also reminded us of the important role a speech therapist can play in remediating this “common” speech dysfluency.

What are the signs of stuttering?

The signs and symptoms of stuttering are easily recognizable and often include repetitions of words/ parts of words as well as prolongations of words. Though no one knows the exact causes of stuttering, recent research indicates that family history, neuromuscular development, and the child’s environment, including family dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering.Stress can make it worse, but it not considered a cause.

Important facts about stuttering

Here are some other related facts you may find interesting:

  • About 5% of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more
  • It’s more of a male problem! There are three to four times as many boys who stutter as there are girls
  • There is no correlation between stuttering and intelligence

While you may be tempted to suggest, “Just spit it out,” or advise someone who stutters to “Take a deep breath before speaking,” the most helpful suggestion is to let them know it can be corrected when working with a speech therapist, also referred to as an SLP. Under the guidance of a trained professional, oral communication can be improved using behavioral interventions.

It is important to understand that stuttering can be corrected and someone with a speech issue is not limited in what they can do, as the movie showed. Did you know that ABC co-anchor John Stossel used to stutter? And look at him now.

Do you know of other famous public figures that used to stutter and have overcome it?

Watch this inspiring video by Great Speech therapist Ana Paula Mumy and see how speech therapy can change lives.

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Leave Your Accent Behind

Everyone has an accent. No matter where you go in life, you take your accent with you. It is part of your personal identity and reflects your unique characteristics and background. Some people have regional accents, like a Southern drawl or the Texas twang. Others have foreign accents which indicate that they were born or raised in a different country.

Leave your accent behind with accent modification

While an accent can be a source of pride, it can also be a source of frustration. It can affect communication if others have trouble understanding you or ask you to constantly repeat yourself. Sometimes it can impact job performance, self-esteem and even your social life.

Here’s the good news. Accents can be modified. Actors often change their accent in preparation for a specific role. Businessmen sometimes look to modify their speaking voice or improve their presentation skills as do lawyers before a major court case.

And though speaking with an accent is not a speech and language disorder, the person most qualified to guide you through the process is a speech and language pathologist (SLP). An SLP is trained to evaluate your speech pattern, sound pronunciation and the rhythm and intonation of speech before creating an individualized plan.

When Do you need accent modification?

Here are some typical benefits:

  • Improve your communication skills
  • Neutralize a foreign or regional dialect
  • Modify your speaking voice to portray confidence
  • Build self-confidence and improve your social life

Minor modifications can lead to significant success. For example, actor Alexander Skarsgard from Sweden, had an accent coach when he returned to the states, and his career improved. He is now the lead in several shows and movies.

In business, an entrepreneur may benefit from accent reduction therapy when trying to market their company in the US. For aspiring politicians with an accent, accent reduction therapy can help them reach more people who otherwise may have prejudice to someone with an accent, whether they are foreigners or not.

So if your accent is preventing you from moving ahead, leave your accent behind.

Did you ever feel your accent is getting in the way of your career or personal life?


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Four Great Speech Tips to Help You Succeed in Business and Real Life


Common perception is speech therapy is for kids.

While many of our Great Speech clients are 12 years old and under, there is a growing trend of young and older adults who are looking to correct speech issues or learn new ways of communicating to facilitate success in the business world.

Some had speech therapy as children and were not successful. Others did not have access to the right therapist or any services due to geographical or financial constraints and are now grappling with the problems as an adult.

I currently have a client who is in the process of looking for a new job and is having difficulty being hired due to articulation issues.

The good news is: It’s never too late to remediate.

Sometimes we are not ready as children to put in the time and effort it takes to correct a speech-related issue. As adults, the added maturity can be a huge advantage.

Capture Public speaking

I recently read an article by Jon Westenberg who shared his personal saga of overcoming major speech issues and through ongoing speech therapy, determination and a strong, now speaks before large audiences.

His four tips are worth sharing:

  1. “The first thing people try and do is look for a way around those limits. A way around, instead of a way through.
  2. The way to break those limits is to learn new skills, and push yourself to try, fail and uncover data.
  3. The way to break those limits is to spend years focused on them.”
  4. If you do not break those limits, I’ve got news for you. You’re not going to make it.”

Learning new skills is scary for all of us. Even as a seasoned speech therapist, I hesitate to commit to live TV segments. I recently was asked to share insights on toys which promote language on a live TV show. “There would be no retakes and do overs,” they explained.

My first reaction was no.

Then I did it. It was an amazing feeling. And I would do it again.

It is in our best interests to go outside of our comfort zones, take risks, break the limits and reach for the moon.

Even if we fall short, we will land among the stars, with support from clinicians trained to remediate speech problems.

And while being a star may be a large and overwhelming task, it is no small accomplishment.

Ready to see how online speech therapy can help you succeed in business?

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