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Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Basic Information
Introduction to Disorders of ChildhoodIntellectual DisabilitiesMotor Skills DisordersLearning DisordersCommunication DisordersAutism and Pervasive Developmental DisordersADHD and Disruptive Behavior DisordersFeeding and Elimination DisordersAnxiety DisordersReactive Attachment DisorderStereotypic Movement DisorderTic DisordersInfancy, Childhood or Adolescence, Not Otherwise Specified
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Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Treatment of Communication Disorders and Recommended Reading

Andrea Barkoukis, M.A., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

The speech treatment plan developed for your child will vary depending on the subtype of communication disorder that he or she has, as well as on other factors such as your child's intellectual ability, behavior, and personality.

mother and daughter talkingThere are essentially three main goals for communication disorder treatments: 1) to help children to develop and improve their communication abilities, 2) to help children develop coping strategies and alternative communication options enabling them to compensate for times when their communications abilities are insufficient, and 3) to help children get used to using and practicing their communication skills and coping strategies in real-world environments such as home, at school, and with friends.

Communications treatment may include one or more of the following types of interventions:

  • Speech Therapy to help children learn new vocabulary, organize their thoughts and beliefs, and correct grammatical or word errors
  • Behavior Therapy designed to increase children's use of desirable communication behaviors, decrease their unwanted problem behaviors and use of maladaptive coping strategies, and to promote their development of useful interpersonal skills. Changes occur via a program of systematic reward and reinforcement. For example, children may be encouraged to use mnemonic strategies (adaptive coping behavior) to help them remember facts relevant to their school performance. Remembering the word "HOMES" can trigger the names of the five great lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
  • Some clinicians may also recommend the use of Stimulant Medications as a treatment for any impulsivity or hyperactivity symptoms that may be present. This is a variation on a common intervention typically used for treating ADHD, which you may read about more in our ADHD topic center.
  • Environmental Modification can also be an important part of treatment for communication disorders. For example, children with communication disorders can be given extra time during school-based discussions or oral test situations to more adequately formulate responses.

Success rates for communication disorder treatments based on methods like those just described are typically reported to be high, with around 70% of treated children benefiting. Follow-up treatment is sometimes necessary when relapses occur.

Recommended reading:

Childhood Speech, Language & Listening Problems: What Every Parent Should Know by Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi

Teaching Students With Language and Communication Disabilities by S. Jay Kuder

The Late Talker: What to Do If Your Child Isn't Talking Yet by Marilyn C. Agin, Lisa F. Geng , Malcolm Nicholl