Parent Letter 2015-16

Hello Parents!

I am thrilled to be back for my 3rd year as Armstrong’s Speech-Language Pathologist.  I am frequently reminded about how fortunate we are to be a part of this district – not only for all of the great resources available to our students but also for the passion and expertise that the staff exudes. 

Speech therapy has already begun for the year, and it has been great to catch up with everybody and get back to work. I wanted to remind everyone of a few logistics for speech therapy this year:

  • Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings occur annually unless there is another reason to meet.
  • I will send out an email as well as a formal written invitation for your child’s ARD as soon as it is scheduled, usually more than a month in advance.
  • Progress reports are sent out each 9 weeks, and I will be emailing results from our online system, eSped, this year.
  • Please feel free to reach out to me anytime if you have a question or concern about what we are working on in speech. It’s probably best to reach me by email first ( and then by phone (214) 780-3191.

I also wanted to inform each of you about the areas of communication that I treat.  Speech and language therapy within an elementary school setting encompasses the rehabilitation of communication skills for children with articulation, language, fluency, and voice disorders. 



Articulation is the movement of the speech mechanism to produce speech sounds. 


 What is an Articulation Disorder?

As children develop, the number of speech sounds a child can say correctly increases and their speech becomes more adult-like and understandable.  Therefore, it is perfectly normal for young children not to be able to say all the sounds found in a language.  An articulation disorder can exits when a child is delayed in acquiring speech sounds when compared to his/her peers.  The age of acquisition for each individual sound varies greatly from child to child.  Therefore, diagnosis of an articulation disorder at an early age may depend on a child’s inability to produce several sounds that greatly affect his/her ability to be understood.  By third grade, a child should have acquired all sounds.



Language is composed of the interactive components of semantics, syntax, morphology, and pragmatics.


Semantics refers to the meaning of language.  It includes understanding the meaning of words and texts and using words to express meaning.  Examples of language skills that rely on semantics:

  • Understanding the meaning of what is said
  • Putting ideas into words and explaining words
  • Discussing the meaning of words/defining words
  • Understanding and using the parts of speech-adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, nouns, verbs


Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.  Syntax influences such language abilities as following directions, interpreting questions, and understanding and expressing a variety of sentence structures.


Morphology is sometimes included as an aspect of syntax and is often referred to as grammar.  Intact morphology includes such abilities as understanding and using verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, and structural cues such as prefixes and suffixes.


Pragmatic language is social language.  Examples of pragmatic skills include the following:

  • Beginning, maintaining, and ending a topic/conversation
  • Clarifying, retelling, and summarizing spoken messages
  • Connecting experiences and ideas with those of others through speaking and listening
  • Retelling important events of a story
  • Understanding and demonstrating conversational manners such as eye contact and turn taking while speaking


What is a Language Disorder?

Studies have proven that language develops in a specific pattern and with common milestones.  When one or more of these areas are not age appropriate or developing at the typical pace, then a child may have a language disorder. 



Fluency refers to how smooth a person is able to produce continuous, uninterrupted, effortless flow of speech; speech that is not hindered by excessive dysfluencies.


What is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a complex disorder involving interactions among what the child does, how he/she feels, and what he/she thinks.  The child might have breaks in the forward flow of speech, such as repeating a sound or syllable of a word, stretching the beginning sound, or being unable to say a word at all.  The child may begin to avoid and fear speaking; express frustration at being unable to talk; or use other behaviors to help get speech moving, such as blinking his/her eyes, nodding his/her head, or stamping his/her foot.  The child may express his/her thought through questions or comments such as “Why can’t I talk?” or “My mouth is broken.”  Not all children will exhibit negative feelings or thoughts about their speech.  The cause of stuttering is still unknown. 


Developmental Stuttering

Many children between the ages of 18 months to 5 years of age go through periods of developmental nonfluency as their language skills are expanding.  Typically normal nonfluency is characterized by interjections and whole word and phrase repetitions.  Typically, children going through these developmental periods are relatively unaware of the dysfluencies and do not express any concerns about their talking. 


Stuttering Concerns

If a child has breaks in fluency such as repetitions, prolongations and blocks, struggles when trying to talk, avoids certain social or academic situations due to speech, he/she may be at risk for stuttering or other disorders of fluency. 



Voice, refers to the pitch and vocal quality of a person.


Therapy is usually warranted after physical trauma to the vocal folds or to the laryngeal anatomy has occurred.  Characters of concern might include one or more of the following:

  • Voice sounds harsh breathy or hoarse
  • Voice sounds hypernasal or hyponasal
  • Voice is intermittent or completely lost
  • Volume is too loud or too soft
  • Pitch is too high or too low
  • Voice interferes with communication
  • Voice causes unfavorable listener reaction
  • Shows signs of frustration because of voice



Thanks again for letting me be a part of your child’s education! 


Laura Walker, M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

(214) 780-3191