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Speech therapist working with young child using cards.
Speech therapist working with young child using cards.
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From the moment your child is born, keeping track of their “firsts” is probably one of your greatest joys.

That first smile. The first time they roll over. The first steps they take. And their first words. But when those first words don’t come when you think they should, you might wonder, “Is something wrong? Should I be worried?”

Delays in reaching speech and language milestones and other speech conditions may cause you to worry. There are lots of reasons why your child may have trouble communicating. The expert pediatric speech therapy team at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital can help. They treat children of all ages — from babies on up. We can help your child learn to use their words so they interact confidently with the world around them.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic Children's for Speech Therapy?

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Personalized care:

Your child’s speech and language challenges are unique to them. That’s why our pediatric speech-language providers will first take time to get to know your child. Then they’ll design a personalized therapy plan that focuses on their specific problems and goals.

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Caring approach:

We use play-based therapy, including fun, lively games, toys and stories, so your child enjoys their treatment sessions and wants to come back to learn more.

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Collaborative care:

The most successful pediatric speech therapy relies on a partnership between our providers and your family. While your child will learn new skills in therapy sessions, it’s important for you to practice these exercises with them at home between sessions, too.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic Children’s is a trusted healthcare leader. We’re recognized throughout the U.S. for our expertise and care.

Conditions We Treat With Speech Therapy for Children

There are many types of speech and language conditions, and each requires a different treatment plan. So a correct diagnosis is important.

Some conditions, like these, are related to a neurologic problem:

 Other conditions, like these, are related to a physical problem:

Anxiety can also sometimes cause selective mutism. This happens when a child is so nervous about being in a certain situation or place that they can’t speak.  

What to expect at your first visit

When you and your child come to see us for the first time, we’ll start by asking what you or others have noticed about the way your child speaks — or if they speak at all — and how this affects their daily life.

Then, we’ll do some tests based on your child’s age and stage of development.

  • Clinical observation: Don’t be surprised if we spend some time simply watching your child (clinical observation). We’re looking for their speech-language strengths and weaknesses. This is an important step in developing a treatment plan that matches their specific needs.
  • Play-based testing: If your child is young, we may use toys and games to evaluate their speech and language skills. Potato Head is a toy we use often in play-based testing. We can learn a lot about how your child responds to questions, takes turns, pays attention and communicates by having them identify Potato Head’s parts as they play. We’re watching what they do, what they say and how they say it — if they’re talking at all.
  • Standardized tests: We may also have your child do a few standardized tests so we can compare their speech and communication abilities to other kids the same age. Depending on how old they are, we may also play word games and talk with them to see how well they process information and communicate.

Meet Our Pediatric Speech Therapy Team

Our pediatric speech-language pathologists (SLPs) lead your child’s treatment. Depending on the cause of their speech condition, they may also see pediatric audiologists, who can check their hearing, and pediatric otolaryngologists, who can treat physical issues causing speech problems. They may also work with:


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Speech Therapy Sessions at Cleveland Clinic Children’s

Your child’s speech or language condition is unique to them. And how they respond to therapy will be different than how another child responds. That’s why we work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan that focuses on their specific type of speech or language problem and takes into account their age and also their personality.

We’ll take what we learn from our evaluation and testing to create therapy goals for your child. We base their treatment on these goals and focus on meeting them during our therapy sessions. Our pediatric providers do their best to keep these sessions fun, as well as productive, so your child stays engaged and interested.  

Individual speech therapy sessions

We want your child to feel comfortable when they come for therapy, so we’ll spend a lot of time talking with them — and playing with them if they’re younger. This also gives us a chance to see how they interact and communicate while doing everyday things and track their progress.

As your child moves through treatment, we’ll continue to play during our sessions but add in other things, like sequencing activities and language-based board games. If they can read, we’ll ask them to read out loud.

These activities help your child find and use the words they need and learn how to move their mouth and tongue to pronounce these words correctly.

Practicing at home

Speech therapy is most effective when your child practices what they’ve learned in our sessions at home between appointments. Even five minutes a day can make a difference.

Here’s how you can help your child:

  • Be attentive and patient: Let them know that they can take their time, and that you’re listening.
  • Read with them: This lets them hear and recognize words. Have them point to pictures or name pictures. And if they’re old enough to read, have them read back to you.
  • Play with them: Board games where they guess or describe objects or ask questions are a great way to help them expand their speech and language skills.
  • Use good speech: Children typically follow your lead. So always use simple, but grammatically correct, speech when you talk with your child. Tell them what you’re doing as you go about your day. Name things they see, like shapes, colors and animals, and have them repeat back what you say.

Small group therapy

Preschool playgroups, summer programs and other small group sessions let your child have fun with other kids their same age while working on their speech and communication skills. Your child’s pediatric speech-language pathologist can go over group therapy options with you.

Taking the Next Step

Helping your child overcome a language or speech condition is an important part of their growth and development — physically, mentally and emotionally. Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s speech and language therapists and other pediatric providers can help your child improve their speech and language skills so they can communicate with confidence.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s speech therapy experts is easy. We’ll care for your child.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s speech therapy experts is easy. We’ll care for your child.

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