An In-Depth Look Into Speech Therapy

Speech and language therapy is a therapeutic approach used to improve speech, language, and communication challenges. Speech therapy can support people of all ages in developing vital communication skills to improve their quality of life.

The diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) include persistent deficits in social communication (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). As such, many children with autism benefit from speech therapy to address these challenges. 

Read on to learn more about speech therapy, including:

  • The importance and benefits of speech and language therapy
  • How speech therapy works
  • Insurance coverage

…And more!

Importance of Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and language therapy can improve the quality of life for children with autism and other language disorders. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) help children overcome communication barriers, allowing them to better relate to others and access their wants and needs. Beyond the tangible benefits of improved communication skills, speech therapy can foster confidence, self-esteem, and independence. Every child deserves to have an effective method of communication, whether through vocal speech or via augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) such as sign language or a speech-generating device. Speech therapists help support every child in expressing themselves effectively. 

Speech and language therapy can address the following:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders–Speech therapy is often used to address individualized communication challenges related to an autism diagnosis.
  • Articulation disorders–Difficulty with the pronunciation of sounds. 
  • Phonological disorders–Challenges with the sound patterns that form words.
  • Language disorders–Delays in understanding and using spoken and written language in context (i.e., Aphasia). 
  • Fluency disorders–Stuttering and other interruptions in the natural flow of speech.
  • Social/pragmatic disorders–Challenges with social communication, such as conversational skills, using humor, and understanding body language and non-verbal cues.
  • Oral-motor difficulties–Weaknesses in the muscles and structures involved in oral movements, affecting speech, feeding, and swallowing (i.e., Apraxia). 

Feeding and eating challenges–Issues related to sucking, eating, chewing, drinking from a cup, or swallowing.

Benefits Of Speech Therapy

The benefits of speech therapy are multifaceted, encompassing a wide range of improvements to communication, feeding, and an overall greater quality of life. As each child’s needs are unique, so too are the benefits they will receive from speech and language therapy. 

Some of the benefits of speech therapy may include:

  • Strengthens the muscles needed for speech
  • Improves articulation
  • Teaches children to express their wants and needs, whether through vocal speech or AAC
  • Supports the expression of thoughts & ideas
  • Increases conversation and social skills 
  • Reduces frustration caused by inability to communicate
  • Enhances a child’s understanding of the meaning of words & how to use them
  • Develops a child’s vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension of language
  • Improves quality of life by reducing barriers to effective communication
  • Teaches children to understand non-verbal cues and body language
  • Reduces challenges in eating and drinking

How Speech Therapy Works

Speech therapy starts with an initial asssessment conducted by a speech therapist. This assessment involves gathering information about the child’s communication abilities, strengths, and challenges. The therapist may conduct the evaluation via informal observations, interviews, and structured assessment tools. Based on the results of the thorough assessment, the speech therapist will identify individualized goals and establish a treatment plan to address these goals.  They will review this plan of care with the family before proceeding. 

After the family and therapist agree upon a plan of care, speech therapy sessions begin. These are typically conducted 1:1 with the speech therapist and child. The therapist will employ various techniques that target the child’s individualized goals. They may also provide recommendations for the family to target the child’s goals at home, outside of therapy sessions. 

How often does speech therapy occur?

The frequency and duration of speech therapy will depend on a number of factors. These include the treatment setting, the child’s assessed needs and unique goals, and the hours allotted by insurance or other payors. Children with few communication delays may attend speech therapy for a short period of time to overcome minor challenges. Other children may attend therapy 1-3x/week for an extended period as they work on improving multiple communication barriers. The speech therapist will determine the most appropriate speech therapy frequency during the assessment process. 

What settings does speech therapy occur in?

Children may receive speech therapy in many different settings. According to ASHA, 56% of SLPs work in educational settings such as early intervention programs, preschools, and K-12 schools. Speech therapy is also commonly provided in a speech clinic or multidisciplinary care center, like that of Therapeutic Treehouse. Some speech therapists work with individuals in their homes or residential healthcare facilities. Others also work in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. While less common, speech therapy can also occur remotely via telepractice.

The setting for speech therapy may influence the goals the therapist will address. For example, school-based speech therapy goals are closely tied to educational goals, addressing communication challenges that affect academic participation and achievement. Speech therapy in a private clinic often addresses a broader range of communication goals. Because of this, many children receive speech therapy both at school through their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and in a clinic outside of school hours.   

How do speech therapists collaborate with other providers?

A majority of children with autism receive two or more types of therapy to address their unique needs. For example, they may attend applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech, and occupational therapy. One 2019 research study found that around ¼ of children with autism received three or more therapies at the same time, while around ⅔ received three or more therapies in the last 12 months (Monz et al., 2019). With so many children attending multiple therapies, speech therapists understand the importance of collaboration. Collaboration with other providers is key to success whether the child attends speech therapy in a clinic, at school, or in another setting. Speech therapists may collaborate with other providers via meetings, phone calls, emails, in-person observations, or co-treats. 

At Therapeutic Treehouse, we recognize that each child is incredibly unique and requires a multifaceted approach to address their specific needs. As such, our multidisciplinary team regularly collaborates to drive the best possible outcomes for each learner.

Speech Therapy Insurance Coverage

Most health insurance plans cover speech therapy, though some have limitations. Most states have specific autism mandates, requiring most health plans to cover care related to a child’s autism diagnosis, such as speech, ABA, and occupational therapy. You can learn more about each state’s insurance mandates here. Because some plans are exempt from state mandates, checking with your insurance provider to verify coverage is best. 

Would My Child Benefit From Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is often recommended for children with autism and other developmental delays to target the speech and language challenges related to these diagnoses. If you are concerned about your child’s communication skills, it’s best to have them evaluated to determine whether speech therapy would be a good fit for them.

Your child may benefit from speech therapy if they experience challenges related to:

  • Effectively communicating their desires, needs, and emotions
  • Holding a conversation
  • Understanding non-verbal cues
  • Swallowing, chewing, and drinking
  • Stuttering
  • Understanding spoken or written language

Every child develops at their own pace, and there is variability in the development of language skills. However, when you notice delays, it is most beneficial to begin intervention early, as research supports early intervention for the best possible outcomes (Guralnick, 2011). 

If you’re in the Palm Beach area, Contact us to discuss your child’s needs. We would be happy to help you further explore the care options available for your child. 


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-a). Childhood apraxia of speech. 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-a). Child Speech and language. 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-b). Employment settings for SLPs.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-d). States with specific autism mandates.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Telepractice.

Guralnick, M. J. (2011). Why Early Intervention Works: A Systems Perspective. Infants and Young Children, 24(1), 6.

Monz, B. U., Houghton, R., Law, K., & Loss, G. (2019). Treatment patterns in children with 

autism in the United States. Autism research : official journal of the International 

Society for Autism Research, 12(3), 517–526.

Dr. Stephanie Renfrow only accepts private pay.
Very short waiting list for assessments!
For scheduling, please email: DR.RENFROW@GMAIL.COM
Call or Text: 561-413-7759
For more information, visit her websites at:

Located in Boca Raton