Play Works Children's Therapies and the Hood River community at large is fortunate to have access to outpatient Spanish/English speech-language evaluation and therapy services. Emily DeCarlo, MA CCC-SLP recently joins us from Seattle, WA to provide evidence based treatment for our dual language learners and their families. Emily is the ONLY outpatient/clinic based Bilingual SLP in the Gorge- and we couldn't be happier to have her on our team. You can read all about her HERE!
A common question we are asked by parents and local professionals is how to determine when a referral is appropriate for speech-language intervention in a dual language learner. Numerous studies on bilingualism reveal that the vast majority of bilingual children reach the different stages of language development at approximately the same time as monolingual children.
Speech-language pathologists expect children to reach certain milestones on time and at an expected level of intelligibility. These developmental milestones remain consistent across multiple languages and for monolingual and bilingual children. For example, a school aged child whose speech remains equally unintelligible in both of her languages raises concern, because research suggests typically developing children retain some sound errors, but are fully intelligible by age 4. (Red Flags for Speech-Language Impairment in Bilingual Children, Scott Prath CCC-SLP)
Take a look at this chart outlining what we expect to see in typically developing children, regardless of their native language (source ASHA Leader):
The same holds true for a child's language development. If you notice that your child, student, or patient is not developing his/her language in this typical sequence, you can feel confident about your referral to a bilingual speech-language pathologist.
Where we do find differences in communication development between Spanish and English speakers is in the area of phonology and speech production. The following charts outline when sounds are mastered by 90% of children in each age group. An extremely intriguing take-away are that sounds are not acquired in both languages at the same time!
If you are still unclear whether or not a referral to a bilingual SLP is appropriate, the best thing to do is schedule an evaluation with a bilingual speech-language therapist. Someone who not only speaks fluently the two languages of your child, but is also familiar with the development of language in bilingual children. The therapist will be able to determine if your child is developing the appropriate skills for their age, as well as what their strengths and weaknesses are, and to tell them if their child needs therapy or not. In some cases, when therapy is not considered necessary but there is some level of concern, the therapist can indicate a program of activities to do at home with your child, and schedule a follow-up appointment a few months later.
We currently provide therapy in English, Spanish, and English-Spanish (for bilingual speakers). We provide therapy in areas such as: Articulation / Phonology, Auditory Processing, Language Delay, Language Disorders, Social Language (Pragmatics), Stuttering / Cluttering (Fluency), and Voice. In addition, we work with special populations, including but not limited to: Apraxia, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Cleft Lip / Palate, Down Syndrome, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Learning Disability, and Multiple Disabilities.