Motor Mouth Speech & Language

Speech Therapy Treatments

Motor Speech Disorder / Childhood Apraxia of Speech

By the age of two, your child should be approximately 50% understood by strangers. This increases to around 75% by three, and so on. If you or most people have difficulty understanding your child, it is a good idea to see a speech-language pathologist.

There has been an increase in awareness about childhood apraxia of speech. Apraxia is a severe motor speech disorder characterized by difficulty coordinating the complex motor movements required for speech. Symptoms include:

  • limited babbling / cooing in infancy
  • late to speak, words frequently are missing sounds
  • limited number of consonant and vowel sounds
  • problems combining sounds; may show long pauses between sounds
  • simplifies words by replacing difficult sounds with easier ones or by deleting difficult sounds
  • may have problems eating or with coordinating other motor movements (e.g. climbing stairs)

Just because your child is later to speak than their peers does not mean they have apraxia. Apraxia is a rare disorder and many symptoms are present in other speech/language difficulties.

Marnie will determine the nature of your child's speech difficulties and, if appropriate, teach you specific strategies to remediate sound error patterns. She will help you find activities that fit into your daily life to make it easy for you to practice every day.

Late Talker

Late Talkers

"Late talkers" are between 18-30 months of age with good comprehension of spoken language and normal play, motor, cognitive, and social skills -- but few or no spoken words. Essentially, the only concern is that the toddler is not talking very much.

Marnie will complete a thorough assessment of all areas of communication and determine if your child is a "late talker" or might have more significant speech and language difficulties. Group therapy can often be effective for "late talkers".

Autism Spectrum Disorders / Social Communication Difficulties

Autism Spectrum Difficulties

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a neurological disorder resulting in difficulties with:

  • communication
  • social skills
  • behaviour
  • activities & interests

The three most common disorder types in ASD include:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called autism, classic autism and AD)
  • PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified)
  • Asperger's Disorder (also called AS, Asperger's Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome)

The core features of ASD include deficits in communication and social skills, so it is critical to include a speech-language pathologist on your care team if you are concerned your child has ASD. A speech-language assessment can help determine if your child needs further assessment by a psychologist or developmental paediatrician, and provide the early interventions that are essential for the best outcomes.

It is never too early to start treating and facilitating social skills, so there is no need to wait to start communication therapies until your child has been diagnosed with ASD. Other disorders, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a variety of genetic syndromes can also affect a child's social skills. Marnie is comfortable working with children with a variety of social skills delays.

As with all speech-language concerns, a thorough assessment will determine your child's strengths and areas for development. A comprehensive treatment plan will be developed, sometimes in consultation with other professionals. Marnie may recommend referrals to other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, occupational therapists, developmental paediatricians, and behavioural consultants.

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

Developmental Language Disorder

Language learning difficulties affect how well a child can express themselves and understand language. Standardized testing (if possible) will be used to determine the nature of your child's language skills.

Children with language delays are at risk for later speech difficulties, learning difficulties and often have trouble learning to read and write. Early detection and intervention is the key in ensuring children reach their full potential.

Marnie has worked with children with language learning difficulties in a variety of settings and with a variety of needs. Group treatment is often recommended for children with language delays.

Reading and Writing (Literacy)

You may be thinking, "what the heck is a speech pathologist doing teaching kids to read!?". Many people don't realize how closely speech and language (and learning!) are tied to literacy. Like other areas of speech-language therapy, early intervention for literacy is critical for later academic success.

Children who were late to speak or had difficulty pronouncing words frequently go on to have trouble learning to read and write. In fact, difficulties with speech and language skills before school are the first signs that your child may have trouble reading and writing later on. This is because early-developing skills related to awareness of sounds, syllables, grammar and rhyming give kids a foundation so they can learn to pair and blend sounds represented by letters, and eventually learn to read.

If your child had speech-language delays before school, you might want to have their pre-literacy development assessed in kindergarten. Marnie can help identify which kids are likely to have trouble learning how to read and start you on a path to developing the necessary pre-reading skills. If your child is already in grade one or beyond and struggling to learn letters and sounds and learning to read, Marnie can show you proven (and fun!) activities to practice at home to get them on track with their reading and writing skills.


Many young children go through a phase of what is called "normal dysfluency" in that they tend to repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases during a time of rapid language development. However, some children don't outgrow this phase and need therapy to address their stuttering. The good news is that there are scientifically proven ways to help preschool and school-aged children who stutter. One of these is called the Lidcombe Programme, and Marnie has extensive experience implementing this method. The Stuttering Foundation has many great resources for parents concerned about their child's stuttering.