What We Treat

We provide individualized care to improve speech and language skills and address a variety of conditions and disorders in children:

  • Pronunciation problems, including articulation, phonology, apraxia and dysarthria
  • Hearing loss
  • Language delays and disorders
  • Cognition
  • Voice pitch, rate and loudness
  • Dyslexia
  • Stuttering
  • Feeding and swallowing problems

Services We Offer

Our speech-language pathology services combine assessment procedures and age-appropriate therapies to discover and treat the cause of your child’s problem. Pediatric speech-language pathology services are offered at nine Children’s outpatient locations and as part of our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program.

Learn more about our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program

Tests, studies and examinations

We use research-based, standardized testing to evaluate children’s speech and language conditions. We use a few tests to diagnose feeding and swallowing disorders, including:

  • Oral pharyngeal motility study (OPMS) or modified barium swallow study (MBSS): Exams that use radiology to view how children swallow food and liquids and if they have any trouble swallowing.
  • Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES): A tiny, specialized camera is gently inserted through the nose to examine swallowing function. Our speech-language pathologists perform the test with a pulmonologist or otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat, or ENT, doctor).

To evaluate and diagnose voice disorders, our speech-language pathologists work with ENT doctors to perform videostroboscopy. This procedure allows clinicians to examine the health and function of your child’s vocal folds.

Additionally, our specialists collaborate with the Children’s Center for Craniofacial Disorders to provide highly advanced diagnostic resources for patients with congenital (present at birth) or acquired skull or facial bone conditions such as cleft lip and palate or facial trauma.

Treatment

Our clinicians create customized treatment plans to address each child’s specific needs. Treatment may include:

  • Auditory processing assessment and treatment for disorders affecting language development and academic performance
  • PROMPT (prompts for restructuring oral-muscular phonetic targets) technique for apraxia, which uses manual touch cues to develop proper oral muscular movements
  • Cognitive training for school or community re-entry after a head injury or traumatic brain injury
  • Evaluation and treatment for voice disorders
  • Therapeutic feeding and swallowing treatment
  • Augmentative or alternative communication assessment and training
  • Treatment for autism and pervasive developmental disorders related to communication
  • Auditory-Verbal Therapy for children with mild through profound hearing loss
  • Evaluation and treatment for reading difficulties

In addition to these treatments, your child’s therapist will provide you with a specially designed home program for your child. Home exercises and activities allow your child to continue to make progress between office visits.

Apraxia intensive therapy

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult to say certain sounds, syllables and words. This motor planning difficulty is a result of the brain's inability to coordinate appropriate muscle movements of the lips, tongue and jaw that are needed for speech production.

Intensive intervention is recommended for childhood apraxia of speech. At Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, we provide children age 2 and older the help they need to improve planning, sequencing and coordination of muscle movements for speech.

Our speech-language pathologists teach children the signs and gestures needed to help their brain prepare the parts of the body involved in speech. Our multisensory approach uses touch as well as visual and auditory cues to help train the brain. This allows children to get multisensory feedback on their speech in several different ways, making it easier for them to repeat syllables, words and sentences to improve speech clarity.

Therapy sessions are available by appointment at all our outpatient locations. Contact Keri Warrick at 404-785-8456 for more information.

Dyslexia intensive therapy

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects the way the brain processes written and spoken language, particularly reading. Children who have dyslexia have difficulty learning to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols. Dyslexia may also affect oral and written skills, such as writing and pronunciation.

Dyslexia isn’t a disease; it’s a condition that a child is born with. It’s a lifelong condition, but there are tools and resources that can help manage dyslexia. With the help of specially trained speech-language pathologists, children can build strong reading, writing and comprehension skills.

Our specially trained therapists design a customized program that addresses the needs of each child. We offer one-hour therapy sessions three days a week, for four to six weeks, at Children’s Medical Office Building (at Scottish Rite), Children’s at Cobb, Children’s at Fayette, and Children’s at Satellite Boulevard.

Call Angela Davern-Nelson at 404-785-8592 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Reading disorders

Our speech-language pathologists are specially trained to identify and treat reading disorders. We offer a wide range of therapy services help children with reading disorders build stronger reading, writing and comprehension skills.

Learn more about our services for reading disorders

Voice disorders

Our pediatric-trained specialists have experience diagnosing and treating voice disorders in children, adolescents and teens. They also educate patients about vocal hygiene—habits that support a healthy and strong voice throughout life. Children’s has bilingual speech-language pathologists and interpreters available for children whose primary language isn’t English.

Warning signs

Voice disorders in children can often go unnoticed or be confused with a child’s natural speech. There are several signs that a child may have a voice disorder if they occur often, including:

  • Hoarseness, roughness, breathiness or strain
  • Difficulty speaking loudly or speaking too loudly
  • Loss of voice
  • Pitch that is too high or low for age
  • Vocal fatigue
  • Soreness or pain in the throat when talking
  • Cough not caused by infection or asthma

What we treat

Voice disorders develop for a variety of reasons. Children’s can help treat and prevent disorders by teaching proper vocal health. We can also treat disorders that are a result of medical conditions like:

  • Subglottic stenosis
  • Vocal nodules
  • Granuloma
  • Papilloma
  • Vocal fold cysts
  • Vocal fold paralysis
  • Sulcus vocalis
  • Congenital or acquired laryngeal web
  • Tracheostomy
  • Allergy
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Puberphonia
  • Muscle tension dysphonia
  • Paradoxical vocal fold motion
  • Irritable larynx syndrome
  • Habit cough or throat clear

As part of our comprehensive evaluation to help diagnose voice disorders, we offer videostroboscopy. This procedure, done in collaboration with otolaryngologists (ENT doctors), allows our speech-language pathologists to see how your child’s vocal folds and larynx are functioning and affecting voice production. It can also show any lesions that may be present.

We require a doctor’s referral for evaluation and treatment.

Our Unique Approach

In several key categories, Children’s speech-language pathology services exceed the national average for performance of similar pediatric facilities in the U.S.

Articulation and intelligibility

Articulation is how well a child can produce sounds, and intelligibility is how well a new listener understands the child. In 2012 and 2013, 74.1 and 77.5 percent of our speech-language therapy patients, respectively, improved at least one functional level in articulation and intelligibility. This exceeded the national average of 72.2 in 2012 and 77.1 percent in 2013.

Pragmatics

Pragmatics measure a child’s ability to use language functionally and in social situations. Nearly three-fourths of our speech-language therapy patients improved at least one functional level in pragmatics in 2013, exceeding the national average by nearly 11 percent.

Expressive language

Expressive language, also known as spoken-language production, is a child’s ability to put words together and communicate a thought. What’s important about expressive language is making sure that what a child says is clear and understandable.

With the help of our speech-language therapists, 74 percent of our patients improved at least one functional level in expressive language in 2013, exceeding the national average by 10 percent.

Receptive language

Receptive language, also known as spoken-language comprehension, is a child’s ability to understand language and put it into action, such as following directions. It’s crucial for a child to understand language because it affects his everyday functions—from interacting with others to paying attention to a lesson in class and understanding instructions.

More than 68 percent of our patients improved at least one functional level in receptive language in 2012 and 2013, exceeding the national average.