Speech and language are actually two separate things and we learn them both through play. Babble, play and gesture develop before speech and language and so therapy involves teaching these skills first in young children.
When we conduct speech therapy we are helping a child to learn to say the sounds in an accurate way so that others can understand them, for example if your child is saying 'sip' for 'ship', or 'wun' for 'run'. Most children will start school with only two sounds in error, and they are 'th' and 'r' because these can be tricky for some children until 6-7 years of age. If your child has other sounds in error if can be difficult for new people to understand them, and for them to sound out words for reading and spelling.
Stuttering is a type of speech disorder. Stuttering can be significantly reduced if treated before 6 years of age. It can be reduced beyond this age, however early intervention has the most impact.
When we conduct language therapy we are helping a child to learn to express their message and also to understand messages from others.
To be able to express themselves we teach them many new words (also known as their vocabulary; think of it as their library of words), the accurate order of words (e.g., teaching them to say 'Do you want to play?' instead of 'play you want?') , and accurate grammar (e.g., teaching them to put -ing at the end of action words by 3 years of age).
To be able to understand messages from others we teach children about a wide range of concepts, and word meanings. We also teach them how to understand different types of messages, and messages with multiple steps.
Children can become very frustrated or withdrawn if they can't be understood, or if they can't understand what others are trying to tell them. This can impact their ability to make friends and their overall confidence.
Therapy is guided by assessment results, to target areas that your child has not yet grasped. Therapy teaches these areas in an appropriate developmental order. If your child is at risk of speech and language delays then early support is crucial, to support their development to become a confident communicator.