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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Published March 26, 2013 9:08 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This week I am continuing my look at the condition of Cerebral Palsy (CP). Last week's post discussed some of the basic facts surrounding the condition and the overall affect CP can have on an individual. This week I am narrowing the focus and will look at how speech therapy can benefit a child who has been diagnosed with CP.

According to the Cerebral Palsy Source website, Speech therapy can help a child with CP by helping them to "...correct speech disorders, restore speech, use communication aids, learn sign language, and improve listening skills. The duration of a particular speech therapy program varies depending on the degree of cerebral palsy being treated, and the patient's response to speech therapy".

 The MY CHILD website offers additional information about the various types of speech disorders that can result from a CP diagnosis and what therapy can/should look like for this diverse population:

"Cerebral palsy often affects the language centers of the brain that control speech. In mild cases of cerebral palsy, a child may have difficulty using the correct words, but in more severe cases, a child's ability to verbally express himself or herself might be seriously impeded".

The site continues on to share that an SLP can help a child communicate using "ques (winking or lifting a finger), sign language, or with the assistance of augmentative communication devices (DynaVox or computers)". The site also lists the following speech conditions individual with CP may experience:

Speech therapy addresses conditions such as:

Aphasia - the loss of partial loss of verbal expression

Dyspraxia - understands language, but unable to consistently and correctly pronounce words because of muscle coordination

Dysprosody - disruptions in speech timing and cadence

Dysarthria - Abnormal facial muscle tone

Stuttering, fluency disorders - chronic interruption or repetition in speech

Dysphagia - causes difficulty swallowing, chocking, breathing issues

Articulation disorders - adding or omitting required sounds, distorting sounds

Prosodic issues - intonation and rhythm

Phonation disorders - issues with pitch

Resonance disorders - vocal tract issues

Additionally, speech pathology includes developing not only the act of speaking, but the ability to fully comprehend language.


Some aspects of speech a therapist will address include:

Word formation




Language and vocabulary development

Word comprehension and meaning

Word-object association

Engaging in direct conversation

Mouth and throat muscle coordination and strength

In children that are non-verbal, a speech pathologist will identify ways for the child to express themselves that substitutes speaking and promotes human interaction. To accomplish that goal, therapists rely on physical cues, movements, conventional tools, and technology to help a child compensate for his or her limitations. Some of these tools include:





 Picture boards

 Computer-based aids

 Voice synthesizers


As both sites explain, the role of an SLP in the therapeutic journey of a child with CP is vital. Whether the child has mild or severe CP, these individuals inevitably suffer with communication delays and disorders and it is the role of the SLP to evaluate, diagnose and treat these children.


Join me next week as we look at CP and its effects

on feeding habits and oral motor development.


As I began my search for helpful information regarding cerebral palsy and how it affects feeding and

April 2, 2013 4:29 PM

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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