Your guide to improving speech and language skills


This ebook explores speech-language pathologists’ vital role in rehabilitating speech and language disorders of children, teens, and adults. Topics include:

  • Disorders speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat
  • Therapies for children and teens
  • Therapies for adults
  • Therapies for Parkinson's
  • Speech screenings
  • Resources

Therapies for children, teens, and adults

Imagine all the standard transactions of daily living that require spoken language. Now imagine being unable to communicate your thoughts and feelings accurately during these interactions—and the frustration and anxiety you would feel as a result.

Speech-language pathologists have the skills and patience to improve the speech and language abilities of children, teens, and adults, increasing their ability to communicate.

Ages 2 to 19

The earlier in life kids receive speech-language therapy, the more effective it is. Early intervention works.


We offer therapies for adults struggling with speech-language disorders, Parkinson’s, and stroke.

Speech Disorders

A glossary of 11 speech-language disorders we treat at our Crest Hill and Palos Hills offices.


Get professional help as early as possible

Kids with speech impediments talk differently than other kids, and they know it. Speech impairments hinder communication and reduce self-confidence.

The classic issues (lisping, turning Rs into Ws, stuttering) may be cute at five and younger, but not at 10—they’re problems. The earlier children receive speech therapy, the greater the probability of success.

I cannot say enough about the staff at Sertoma Speech & Hearing Centers, especially Michelle Morrison. She worked with my daughter for years and I consider to be something of a miracle worker.

My daughter has regressive autism, meaning she developed typically until she started "losing" all her words at 18 months and, eventually, stopped speaking altogether. Michelle worked with her all through our "early intervention" phase and for a time after my daughter began receiving services through our local school district.

My daughter, now nine, is not only verbal but astoundingly so. Something that I very much attribute to the hard work and amazing dedication of the staff at Sertoma Speech & Hearing Centers.
—Karyn R., Munster, IN

You know your child better than anyone

If you have a concern, act on it. Why risk your child’s intellectual and social development? A speech screening is the first step to determine if there is a problem. If your child is diagnosed with a disorder or impairment, your speech pathologist will review all the treatment options with you.


Speech therapy is fun

Speech-language pathologists design their sessions to be fun so kids make progress without frustration. Kids and teens look forward to therapy because they’re engaged and carefully guided by their therapist with positive reinforcement.

Early enrollment in speech therapy is key to success. The nervous system for speech and language is most responsive to treatment when kids are young. The younger, the better.

Speech therapy works

It builds communication skills and increases confidence, which together, increase success in school and the ability to socialize with peers. And it gives children and teens the tools they need to manage their speech issues for the rest of their lives.


We diagnose and treat

  • Speech and language disorders and impairments
  • Articulation and phonological disorders
  • Voice disorders
  • Autism spectrum
  • Developmental delays
  • Stuttering
  • Swallowing and feeding impairments
  • Brain injuries


Our team of audiologists and speech-language pathologists reviews the latest research and summarizes it for you. We publish our newsletter eight times a year. You'll learn about —

● Hearing aids
● Dementia triggered by hearing loss
● Pediatric speech and hearing
● Speech-language therapies
● LSVT and Parkinson's Voice therapies
● Occupational-hearing conservation


Communication, vital for success

Adults unable to communicate thoughts and feelings accurately experience high frustration and anxiety. Imagine all the routine transactions of daily living that require spoken language. If you or a loved one is having difficulty with speech, you understand this challenge.

Speech-Language Disorders

Speech-language pathologists have the clinical know-how and patience to improve the speech and language abilities of children, teens, and adults. Their therapies increase communication effectiveness and confidence.

Our clinicians diagnose and treat a wide range of disorders including

Aphasia is a language disorder that happens when you have brain damage. Your brain has two halves. Language skills are in the left half of the brain in most people. Damage on that side of your brain may lead to language problems. Damage on the right side of your brain may cause other problems, like poor attention or memory.

Aphasia may make it hard for you to understand, speak, read, or write. It does not make you less smart or cause problems with the way you think. Brain damage can also cause other problems along with aphasia. You may have muscle weakness in your mouth, called dysarthria . You may have trouble getting the muscles of your mouth to move the right way to say words, called apraxia . You can also have swallowing problems, called dysphagia. —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about aphasia

To speak, messages must go from your brain to your mouth. These messages tell the muscles how and when to move to make sounds. When you have apraxia of speech, the messages do not get through correctly due to brain damage. You might not be able to move your lips or tongue the right way to say sounds. Sometimes, you might not be able to speak at all.

Apraxia of speech is sometimes called acquired apraxia of speech, verbal apraxia, or dyspraxia. It is a motor speech disorder. You can also have apraxia in other parts of your body, like in your arms or legs. This is called limb apraxia.

How serious your apraxia is depends on what type of brain damage you have. Apraxia can happen at the same time as other speech or language problems. You may have muscle weakness in your mouth. This is called dysarthria. You could also have trouble understanding what others say or telling others what you are thinking. This is called aphasia. —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about apraxia

Dementia causes memory loss and other thinking problems that make it hard for the person to remember important information, solve problems, or plan their day. Everyday tasks like getting dressed, taking medicine, and paying bills may be affected.

Most types of dementia get worse over time and do not have a cure. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

Signs and Symptoms
In most cases, dementia starts with memory loss. As time goes by, other signs and symptoms develop, including

  • distraction
  • forgetfulness and confusion
  • problems setting goals and making plans
  • problems following conversations
  • trouble telling others what they want and need
  • personality changes
  • depression
  • trouble eating and swallowing

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about therapies for dementia


We use many muscles to talk. These include muscles in our face, lips, tongue, and throat, as well as muscles for breathing. It is harder to talk when these muscles are weak. Dysarthria happens when you have weak muscles due to brain damage. It is a motor speech disorder and can be mild or severe.

Dysarthria can happen with other speech and language problems. You might have trouble getting messages from your brain to your muscles to make them move, called apraxia. You could also have trouble understanding what others say or telling others about your thoughts, called aphasia. —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about dysarthria

Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) is a condition with many different causes. This condition can have an enormous impact on quality of life. Dysphasia is a severe challenge for people who can’t take in enough calories and fluids to maintain a healthy weight. —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about dysphagia

Fluency refers to continuity, smoothness, rate, and effort in speech production. All speakers are disfluent at times. They may hesitate when speaking, use fillers (“like” or “uh”), or repeat a word or phrase. These are called typical disfluencies or nonfluencies.

A fluency disorder is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and disfluencies (e.g., repetitions of sounds, syllables, words, and phrases; sound prolongations; and blocks), which may also be accompanied by excessive tension, speaking avoidance, struggle behaviors, and secondary mannerisms (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association [ASHA], 1993).

People with fluency disorders also frequently experience psychological, emotional, social, and functional impacts as a result of their communication disorder (Tichenor & Yaruss, 2019a). —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

  • Stuttering, the most common fluency disorder, is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by specific types of disfluencies.

  • Cluttering, another fluency disorder, is characterized by a perceived rapid and/or irregular speech rate, atypical pauses, maze behaviors, and pragmatic issues.

Learn more about fluency disorders

Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time. —Mayo Clinic

Learn more about Parkinson's disease

Speech sound disorders is an umbrella term referring to any difficulty or combination of difficulties with perception, motor production, or phonological representation of speech sounds and speech segments—including phonotactic rules governing permissible speech sound sequences in a language.

Speech sound disorders can be organic or functional in nature. Organic speech sound disorders result from an underlying motor/neurological, structural, or sensory/perceptual cause.

Organic speech sound disorders include those resulting from motor/neurological disorders (e.g., childhood apraxia of speech and dysarthria), structural abnormalities (e.g., cleft lip/palate and other structural deficits or anomalies), and sensory/perceptual disorders (e.g., hearing impairment).

Functional speech sound disorders include those related to the motor production of speech sounds and those related to the linguistic aspects of speech production. Historically, these disorders are referred to as articulation disorders and phonological disorders, respectively. —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about speech sound disorders

Stuttering, the most common fluency disorder, is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by specific types of disfluencies. See FLUENCY DISORDERS.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a brain injury that can happen from a bump or blow to the head or when an object goes through the skull and into the brain. No matter what type of TBI you have, damage to your brain happens right away. Later, you may develop seizures or brain swelling. Doctors treat these medical problems.

TBI can cause speech, language, thinking, and swallowing problems. These problems can affect you in school, at work, and in everyday activities. SLPs treat these problems.

Signs and Symptoms
Because your brain controls all that you do, TBI can cause many problems. A lot will depend on how bad the injury is and where it is in your brain. You may experience one or more of the following problems:

  • Physical problems—fainting, seizures, headaches, dizziness and vomiting, problems with balance, and muscle weakness.
  • Sensory problems—sensitivity to lights, sound, and touch; hearing loss or ringing in the ears; changes in vision or double vision.
  • Behavior changes—being more emotional or feeling anxious or angry; feeling depressed or having mood swings.
  • Problems with thinking skills—difficulty paying attention, remembering, and learning new information; difficulty planning, setting goals, and problem solving.
  • Speech and language problems—problems being understood because of weak speech muscles (dysarthria) or problems controlling your speech muscles (apraxia of speech in adults and childhood apraxia of speech); problems understanding what others say or what you read; problems finding the words to say what you want or need.
  • Social communication issues—difficulty following conversational rules, like taking turns and not interrupting; difficulty understanding nonverbal cues, like when someone shrugs their shoulders.
  • Swallowing problems—trouble chewing, or coughing and choking when you eat (swallowing disorders in adults and feeding and swallowing disorders in children).

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about TBI

A voice disorder occurs when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual's age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location.

A voice disorder is present when an individual expresses concern about having an abnormal voice that does not meet daily needs—even if others do not perceive it as different or deviant. —American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Learn more about voice disorders



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