FAQs: Ask the Speech Therapist
Do I need a doctors referral?
No, we do not need a doctors referral. However, your insurance my require a referral. The American Speech Language Hearing Association has deemed Speech Language Pathology an autonomous profession. This means you can self-refer. We do not require a physician order or insurance approval to provide assessments or therapy.
However, as with any diagnoses it is essential to coordinate with your physician; and as a routine practice, we may ask for physician oversight and a prescription can be obtained if needed. Many insurers require physician oversight as well. Be sure to check your benefits and the necessary reimbursement procedures by calling the number on the back of your insurance card.
What are my options for payment?
There are a variety of funding options which will give you complete freedom to access care with any provider you choose. The funding options may include one or more of the following: cash, credit card, payment plan or reduced rate packages (please allow us to put together a proposal for you), medical savings account reimbursement, and more.
How early can you evaluate my child?
A child of any age can be evaluated, from birth on. Some children are considered “at risk” for speech/language problems due to an underlying diagnosis. These children should be evaluated at the time of the diagnosis and monitored regularly per the Speech/Language Pathologist’s instructions. In addition to typical speech and oral-motor skills, there are known pre-speech behaviors which must occur before a child begins to speak. Some of these include babbling, jargon, turn taking, imitation, and other social-pragmatic skills. The earlier a child can be identified as needing support, the better the outcomes. Unfortunately, some pediatricians still advise a parent to “wait till 24 months” (when a child should have two-word sentences already well established). Let’s say you suspect your child is behind compared to his/her same-age play buddies at age 18 months. If you followed this advice (meanwhile ignoring your own gut feeling) and waited from 18 months till age 24 months–already 25% of their lifespan, or 6 months would have gone by. This is VALUABLE time lost in speech and language acquisition and brain development. Additionally, the longer a problem goes unidentified, the more the skills the child “should have” acquired compound. Speech and language growth is generally exponential-not linear.
Is there anyone that can help me understand the insurance process?
Many employers include a Health Advocate service in your insurance plan. These are professionals who are there to walk you through the insurance claim process including any needed appeals, and in some cases they do the appeal paperwork for you if you supply the appropriate information. Be sure to check out your benefits. In the case of a denial, be sure you communicate your disappointment in the coverage limits of your insurance plan to your HR or benefits coordinator so they can make changes to the policy at renewal time. This will give you better options in the coming benefits year.
How do I know if you can help and how long will it take?
An evaluation is designed to accomplish four things: 1.) Determine if a communication or swallowing problem exists, 2.) define the nature of the problem and the severity (which guides the treatment recommendations and referrals), 3.) provide a treatment plan and measurable goals, and 4.) to answer all of your questions. Your first best step is to consult our experts.
I have a difficult time communicating at work, are you sure you can help me?
Yes! We have defined the communication issues of many professionals who feel their career is being affected by their communication difficulties. Examples include: voice pitch and loudness problems, rate of speech problems, speech/articulation/enunciation problems, intonation/monotone problems, Non-Standard American English (SAE) accents, and more.
What does a speech-language pathologist do?
A clinical speech-language pathologist conducts comprehensive evaluations and then formulates specific individualized goals based upon the testing results. These goals are then implemented in a speech-language therapy program.
What is the difference between speech and language disorders?
A language disorder is the inability to use words and their meanings properly. Children may exhibit inappropriate grammatical patterns, poor reading comprehension, poor decoding skills, difficulty with word retrieval or difficulty with the knowledge of the sound system. A language disorder can lead to a reading disability as well, and it is essential to realize the connection between language and reading development. A speech disorder is characterized by difficulty producing sounds (articulation), dysfluent speech, and voice difficulties.
What is tongue thrust?
(Oral myofunctional disorder)
Tongue thrusting is a way of swallowing. During a tongue thrust swallow, the tongue pushes against the front teeth or through the upper and lower teeth. Almost all infants swallow this way, but most children develop a "normal" swallowing pattern during early elementary years. The child must be taught to swallow a new way, with the tongue moving up and back in the mouth. We must retrain the muscles involved in swallowing.
What is dysfluency?
If your child has difficulty speaking and hesitates or repeats certain syllables, words, or phrases, he may have a speech dysfluency or stuttering problem. He may be just going through normal dysfluency that many children experience as they learn to speak. Contact a speech-language pathologist to determine if your child will benefit from therapy.
What is Apraxia (Dyspraxia) of speech?
Apraxia refers to a disorder of the nervous system which is characterized by the inability to carry out purposeful movements. They have difficulty sequencing the necessary movements that are required for speech production. Speech may be incoherent and the child may be slow to learn to speak.
What is an auditory processing deficit?
An auditory deficit is when there is a breakdown in one or more of the following areas that are essential for learning.
Auditory Attention - ability to maintain purposeful focus to sound.
Auditory Discrimination - ability to tell if two sounds are the same or different.
Auditory Figure - Ground discrimination- ability to focus on sound in sequential order.
Auditory Sequential Memory - ability to remember sounds and words in sequential order.
Auditory Synthesis - ability to blend sounds into syllables and syllables into words.
Sound-Symbol Correspondence - ability to associate a sound with an alphabetic letter.
Rhyming and Phonological Awareness - ability to recognize sound patterns and to identify sounds and sound sequences with a word.
What is a developmental delay?
A developmental delay occurs when your child has delayed achievements of one or more milestones. A physical therapist addresses motor delays and evaluates a child's motor performance. Some signs that your child may not be meeting his normal motor milestones and experiencing a developmental delay would include not bringing hands together, not rolling over, having head lag or not sitting by himself, or not crawling or walking at the age one would expect.
What is hypotonia and hypertonia? How do these conditions affect my child?
Hypotonia involves decreased muscle tone. Children with hypotonia seem floppy and feel like a "ragdoll" when held. A hypertonic child on the other hand has increased muscle tone. Children with hypertonia feel stiff, tight, and sometimes even rigid. Both of these conditions can cause a child to move abnormally and can cause developmental delays. A physical therapist can assist the child and family to learn better ways to move and enhance development of the child.