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Children's Hospital

Speech-Language Therapy

Children with developmental disorders, traumatic brain injury or deformities of the oral structures and throat may have difficulties learning to communicate or problems with swallowing and eating.

Our speech-language pathologists evaluate and treat children with a wide range of communication and feeding disorders, including:

  • Aphasia
  • Apraxia
  • Articulation delays and disorders
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Dysarthria
  • Hearing loss
  • Speech delays or disorders
  • Stuttering and other speech fluency disorders
  • Tongue thrust
  • Swallowing and feeding disorders
  • Voice disorders
  • Vocal cord dysfunction
  • Written language disorders

We offer several advanced diagnostic tests to determine if patients have the muscle control and oral motor skills necessary to swallow.

Special Therapeutic Services

Our specialized clinics and programs include a variety of therapy services.

Helping Children Communicate

Augmentative/Alternative Communication
When physical impairments make children unable to communicate through speech or writing, they may need augmentative (supplemental) or alternative communication to help them express their thoughts, ideas, needs and wants. We help patients and their families choose from a variety of electronic communication devices to find one that best meets their needs for self expression. These devices can boost self-esteem by improving social interaction and participation in school.

Learning to Eat

Encouragement Feeding Program
For children with deformities of the oral structures (the lips, tongue, palate or jaw) or those who have received nourishment through a feeding tube for an extended period of time, learning to eat normally can be an unpleasant experience. Not only are they unaccustomed to the taste and textures of different foods; they also have not developed the ability to regulate their hunger because tube-feeding schedules do not mimic typical feeding schedules.

The Encouragement Feeding Program initiates the process of weaning children from feeding tubes and helping them transition to normal, age-appropriate eating habits. The program lasts about two weeks and requires the participation of parents or other caregivers, who are shown how to overcome a child’s avoidance or resistance to eating.

Helping Kids with Cleft Palate

Craniofacial Clinic
Our speech-language pathologists are part of the UVA Craniofacial Clinic team, a group that involves doctors from specialties like dentistry, head and neck surgery, eye and neurosurgery. We evaluate the speech and swallowing abilities of children with abnormalities such as cleft lip or cleft palate before and after surgical repair and provide follow-up treatment options.

Habilitation and Outreach Program

Therapeutic Educational Programs for Children With Implants
Children who receive a cochlear implant often need habilitation services. Unlike rehabilitation, in which skills or functions that have been lost are relearned, habilitation involves learning or improving skills that may not be developing normally. At UVA, our specialists are skilled in both habilitation and rehabilitation services.

Our specialists: 

  • Offer counseling sessions dedicated to the parents of newly-diagnosed children with hearing loss
  • Provide pre-implant evaluation of current speech, language and auditory skills
  • Serve as a resource to regional educational and therapeutic programs
  • Provide post-implant evaluation of speech, language, and auditory skill development
  • Offer post-implant rehabilitation therapy using listening and spoken language strategies and techniques 

Appropriate aural (hearing) rehabilitation is an essential part of the success of children who receive implants.

Find out how you and your child can benefit from the Habilitation and Outreach Program.