Speech–Language Pathology Services for Children

Some children are challenged by the huge task of learning how to produce words, communicate ideas, and understand concepts. Other children need help feeding and learning how to swallow.

What these challenges have in common is that they are related to the way the mouth works, and in some cases with the way the brain processes language. Speech–language pathologists, part of Rusk Rehabilitation, help children at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone to overcome these challenges through techniques that involve play, oral exercises, and other therapies.

Communication and swallowing and feeding disorders often affect children who have cerebral palsy, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain and spinal cord tumors, pervasive developmental disorder, seizure disorder, and transverse myelitis.

You must obtain a physician referral in order for your child to be admitted to any of our pediatric speech–language programs. For more information about treatment for communication disorders, please call 212-598-6248. To learn more about our programs for children with feeding and swallowing impairments, please call 212-263-6033.

Treatment for Communication Disorders

If your child has a language impairment, our speech–language pathologists evaluate your child to determine its source and to assess how it affects his or her everyday life, performance in school, and social interactions. Some children with communication disorders may require assistive technology, such as a communication device. We work closely with our assistive technology program to help these children achieve effective functional communication.

In partnership with occupational therapy, we host a Social Skills Group and care for children who have experienced concussion.

Communication disorders we treat include the following:

  • aphasia, a language impairment that makes it difficult to express thoughts, understand speech, read, or write
  • dysarthria, which is when poor muscle tone makes it difficult to produce sounds
  • apraxia of speech, in which a child has trouble putting words or syllables together in the proper order
  • developmental language delays
  • receptive or expressive language disorders, which make it difficult to for a child to understand others or communicate ideas, respectively
  • voice disorders

PROMPT Therapy

Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets, known as PROMPT Therapy, uses touch to stimulate the muscles needed to produce sound. It is a treatment for children with a variety of expressive speech–language disorders. Children enrolled in PROMPT Therapy attend 5 sessions per week, 45 minutes each, for 3 weeks. The goals of the treatment include improved verbal output and gains in social, emotional, and linguistic skills that help children communicate at home, in school, and among friends.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

We provide augmentative and alternative communication evaluations to determine the best speech-generating device for your child. We are experts in all forms of communication support, from high-tech to low-tech. We also provide speech–language therapy sessions to help your child learn how to use the device.

Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Children

Feeding and swallowing disorders can result from a weakness in the muscles that are used to chew and swallow food safely. These include the muscles of the lips, tongue, jaw, neck and back of the throat. Feeding difficulties can also be sensory or behavioral, without any muscle weakness. These disorders can make it difficult for children to get the nutrition they need or to transition to age-appropriate foods.

Our pediatric feeding and swallowing experts specialize in the evaluation and treatment of a wide variety of feeding and swallowing impairments. The children we treat have often been diagnosed with failure to thrive; pneumonia and frequent lung infections or respiratory problems; gastroesophageal reflux disease; food allergies or intolerance; sensory integration disorder; developmental delay; genetic syndromes; cancer; and craniofacial anomalies or cleft palate.

For children who demonstrate significant difficulties with feeding, nutrition, and growth due to a medical condition, a referral to our Pediatric Interdisciplinary Nutrition & Feeding Program may be appropriate.

Feel Your Food

Feel Your Food is an intensive group program for children with sensory-related food aversions. Children interact with and learn from their peers, and also work on strengthening muscles around the mouth to improve their eating experience. The goal is to make eating a normal, stress-free experience for the child and family by reducing conflict, easing fears, and improving social situations that involve eating.