Frequently asked questions

Services questions

What is speech language therapy?

Speech and Language are different.

First of all, speech and language are different. A person can have problems with one or both.

What Is Speech?

Speech is how we say sounds and words which includes:

  • Articulation
  • Voice
  • Fluency

What Is Language?

Language refers to words and how we use them to communicate.

Speech and Language Disorders

We can have trouble with speech, language, or both. Having trouble understanding what others say is a receptive language disorder. Having problems sharing our thoughts, ideas, and feelings is an expressive language disorder. It is possible to have both a receptive and an expressive language problem.

When we have trouble saying sounds, stutter when we speak, or have voice problems, we have a speech disorder.

Where to Get Help

Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with people who have speech and language disorders. If you live in the Bloomington-Normal / Central Illinois, Bloomington-Normal Speech Therapy can help.

If you do not live near us, you can find a speech-language pathologist near you by going to ProFind.

What is orofacial myofunctional therapy?

You can think of orofacial myofunctional therapy as physical therapy for the muscles of the face and mouth.

We work to correct the improper functioning of the tongue and face muscles and apply this to basic mouth functions which include:

  • Tongue resting position
  • Saliva swallowing
  • Chewing and swallowing food
  • Liquid swallows
  • Speech
Is there a difference between speech therapy and orofacial myofunctional therapy?

There is a significant difference between speech therapy and orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT). For one thing, most speech therapists are not trained in OMT. OMT is a specialized service which requires special training. In addition, most speech therapists are trained to listen to sounds and treat speech issues as well as identify and treat language disorders for which there are several programs that a speech therapist is trained to deliver. However, with OMT, a trained therapist is also looking for structural issues that may very well be causing your speech issues as well as other issues that you may not have been able connect the dots on because your therapist is not trained to identify those issues. Finally, because we can identify those issues and work with other medical providers, we can route you to the right practitioner and coordinate with them to improve your overall well being.

Have you ever wondered why your child has been in speech therapy so long? Or why they are messy eaters? Are they struggling in school due to behavior issues? Is their posture bad? Do they move a lot in their sleep or snore? Are they mouth breathers? Do they have dental issues? Do they choke when they eat or drool?

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Why is speech therapy important?

Speech therapy is incredibly important for your child’s self esteem and your child’s ability to communicate with others and express their thoughts and feelings. If a child is misunderstood – again and again – there is a tendency for that child to shut down and give up and they may grow to feel that they do not have a voice. It’s important that others understand them and what they are saying. This is important from childhood to adulthood as they work their way through school and eventually a career. A child with good speech and language skills is more likely to succeed and will have a healthy self-esteem and be more independent.

Are the services provided by Bloomington-Normal Speech Therapy similar to the speech my child gets at school?

Schools generally institute an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that helps determine the rate and length of each speech therapy session. The IEP is reviewed annually by the SLP in collaboration with the child’s teachers and parents. Private therapy, on the other hand, is based on the child’s individual needs and is often conducted in 30-45 minute sessions.

Services generally consist of individual or small groups and take place in the classroom or a designated speech room. However, private speech therapy is usually in a one-on-one setting to decrease distractions. Private speech therapy can also supplement school based therapy and vice versa when a child needs additional help to carry-over their learned skills.

Your child would benefit from private speech when:

  • your child does not qualify for school based speech pathology (must affect their academics)
  • you have on-going concerns about your child’s speech
  • the child would benefit from fewer distractions
  • the child would benefit from one-on-one setting
  • you would like to be more involved in therapy sessions
  • you would like your child to receive more frequent or more prolonged therapy sessions
  • your child would benefit from a specialized therapy technique provided by a specially-trained SLP
  • you notice regression during long summer or winter breaks

For those parents opting to leverage both options, we can collaborate with school speech pathologists with your permission.

Do you provide services around dyslexia?

No. Bloomington-Normal Speech Therapy no longer provides dyslexia evaluations and/or tutoring. We are proud to say that we were part of a movement to provide services when they were few and far between. Fortunately, these services are now available in local public schools as well as other providers.

Can you correct stuttering?

No. If anyone tells you they can, they are over promising. A speech therapist can help you treat your stutter, and in many cases can help you communicate more clearly. But there are no “cures” for stuttering. We have a strong program that provides excellent strategies to help those that struggle with stuttering.

Insurance questions

Do you take insurance?

Yes, we are a Blue Cross Blue Shield provider. However, you should verify that the service you or your child requires is a covered service since this varies from policy to policy. 

Check with your insurance provider to verify that our services are covered under your specific policy.

Do you take my insurance?

Insurance varies from policy to policy and the type of treatment. You are responsible for verifying that your insurance policy will pay for the services you or your child may need.  Note that very few insurance companies reimburse parents for speech therapy to treat “developmental articulation disorders” or “developmental language disorders,” limiting coverage to rehabilitative speech therapy (e.g. due to traumatic brain injury, or to treat congenitally related speech problems, such as cleft palate).

Check with your insurance provider.

Many modern policies are high deductible policies which require you to cover the initial costs of therapy and meet a high deductible before insurance kicks in. For those who chose to pay out of pocket, we accept private pay clients and offer a prompt-pay discount.

You can contact your insurance by calling the number on the back of your insurance card.

Process questions

Do I need a referral?

You do not need a referral although we do get referrals.

Generally, speech and language issues are self evident and most parents can decide whether to seek the advice of a speech therapist. We do, however, sometimes get referrals from pediatricians if and when the doctor is aware of what to look for (i.e. speech is an entirely different discipline and many doctors are not speech experts and may not know how to diagnose specific speech problems).

With respect to orofacial myofunctional disorders, we often get referrals and work with dentists, orthodontists, ENTs, doctors, and physical therapists. Again, this depends on the medical professional’s knowledge and understanding of myofunctional therapy. All medical practitioners are responsible for continued education but it is their choice where they focus their time on learning. Note that as part of our evaluation, we may provide guidance around which specific professional you or your child may need to treat an issue we identify.

Did you know?

The American Dental Association issued a policy in October 2017 stating that all dentists should screen children and adults for disordered breathing, a problem that can be treated with myofunctional therapy. Does your dentist screen your child for disordered breathing (i.e. airway issues)? We encourage you to advocate for your child and ask your dentists this question.

How do I get started? What is your intake process?

It all starts with an evaluation. We evaluate your child and then provide a treatment plan for your child that will correct their speech and/or language issue. We will also note whether your child has any myofunctional issues and share an action plan to determine how to deal with those issues. Speech and/or myofunctional therapy often go hand in hand but can occur separately and/or in coordination with other treatment by other professionals. Again, parents must take an active role to advocate for their child to ensure that professionals are working together on their child’s behalf.

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Can I drop my child off and pick them up at the end of their appointment?

No. It is important that parents stay engaged with the treatment as speech problems do not automatically get “fixed” in our short therapy sessions. Speech therapy outcomes improve when parent(s) and other family members help to reinforce what is learned in therapy. Sometimes, you (and we) are lucky and have that conscientious child who wants to fix their own speech. That child is rare but does exist and we’ve seen them. However, most children, will need all the help they can get to improve their speech.

What happens after an evaluation?

We will share with you our assessment and treatment plan for your or your child and schedule you for therapy at regular intervals. We will track progress and adjust our treatment based on progress. We will also make note of any other findings during or after an evaluation that may result in a referral to a specific medical professional for an adjunct and coordinated treatment that will improve outcomes especially when they are coordinated.

Can I observe sessions if I am not the patient?

Yes, unless the patient is 18 or over and has not consented in writing to you observing the session. Again, for parents, understanding your child’s issues and helping reinforce what is learned in therapy will provide better outcomes. Note that we may ask you to sit out a few sessions when the child’s focus is better without your presence but, overall, our preference is to have parents engaged in therapy.

How long does speech therapy take?

Speech therapy can take time – the length of which will depend on many factors.

There are better (and faster) outcomes with speech therapy when an individual:

  • attends their sessions regularly
  • wants to improve their speech
  • has the motivation or is externally motivated to improve their speech
  • practices daily to reinforce what is learned
  • gets encouragement and support from family
  • does not have myofunctional disorders or other issues

You will hear us ask if this is a good time for speech therapy. That is to say, this requires support and commitment from the participant and their families.

How long does myofunctional therapy take?

Like speech therapy, this depends on many factors. We see better and faster outcomes when:

  • The individual is compliant and motivated
  • The individual does not require a release
  • The severity level of oral dysfunctions is low
  • The individual does not require expansion
  • The individual and/or adult is ready to invest in the time and effort required
  • The individual understands the value of therapy

We have had both individuals that speed through myofunctional therapy and we have seen other difficult but worthwhile cases… with great outcomes. Either way, we are dedicated to all of our clients and will help steer you towards the right options.

General questions

How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?

If your child has received a diagnosis of a speech or language disorder, then they should see a speech therapist for children.

If they have not been diagnosed but it seems like they are falling behind in their development, it’s a good idea to bring them in for a speech therapy evaluation. We can assess whether your child needs speech, language, myofunctional, or a combination of these types of therapy.

Many speech and language issues are obvious to parents and, if concerned, a speech therapy evaluation can help uncover either speech and/or language issues. Myofunctional disorders can only be diagnosed by those with specific training. We are one of a few specialists in Central Illinois that are qualified to diagnose and treat myofunctional disorders which may be keeping your children from making progress on speech.

Do children grow out of speech delays?

In many cases, children do outgrow speech delays. However, speech or language disorders are important to catch early in order to stay within the developmental range of children their age – especially prior to starting school. Our recommendation is to err on the side of caution and seek out a speech and language evaluation in order to identify any potential issues.

There are many “early prevention” SLPs that focus on very young children. We do not provide these services but can provide referrals.

For the most part, we see children age 3 and older as well as adults. Since our therapy is instructional, your child will need to be able to follow directions.

When should I be concerned about my child’s communication and development?

Children often grow out of certain speech and language issues. However, in general, catching these before your child is school-aged is critical to allow them to keep up with their peers.

If your child is clear but has difficulty communicating or expressing themselves, they may have a language delay.

If your child is able to express themselves but you have difficulty understanding them due to how they speak, they may have a speech delay.

By 2 years of age, your child should be able to

  • imitate speech or actions and produce words or phrases spontaneously
  • say many sounds and words repeatedly and use oral language to communicate beyond his or her immediate needs
  • follow simple directions
  • speak in a usual tone of voice (not raspy or nasal sounding)
  • be understood at around 50%

At 3 years, your child should be understood at about 75%.

By 4 years, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don’t know the child.

Is Bloomington-Normal Speech Therapy licensed?

We are certified by and have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) provided by ASHA the agency authorized to provide credentialing for speech therapists and are licensed by the State of Illinois to provide services.

Who are some of the other professionals we coordinate with?

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