New Speech Delay Study

normal speech milestones Parents' Corner Speech and Hearing Disorders Speech Therapy for Kids Speech Therapy Techniques

When the American Medical Association Speaks, We Listen          


I’ve been quite affected by a recent research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The research aimed at answering this question: did the Covid-19 pandemic affect the rate of diagnosis of speech delay in children up to the age of five? 

The answer was a clear yes. The pandemic did see a great frequency of diagnosis of speech delay in children.

This post is dedicated to acknowledging this reality and proposing solutions to the collateral effect of the pandemic.

Study Key Points:

First, the study was huge. The authors’ analysis covered almost 2.5 million children. They were broken into four groups, one year-olds, two year-olds, three year-olds and four year-olds.

Second, the results were statistically significant. The researchers can be very confident that their findings are not due to chance and are in fact a representation of reality.

Third, they found increased diagnosis across all four age groups analyzed. 


Now that we understand this situation is real and the pandemic is the likely cause of a greater prevalence of speech delay, let’s talk about what we can do to address it.

When a parent, teacher or pediatrician first raises a concern about a child’s speech development, the first step is always an evaluation with a licensed speech-language pathologist. Should the evaluation yield a diagnosis of speech delay, the next urgent step is to begin a course of therapy.

For decades, we’ve known of the existence of critical periods of speech development.  The periods that children are expected to acquire given skills by a certain age. If a child misses these critical windows of development, rest assured speech therapy has been proven to catch children up.  However, the sooner a child can be seen, the better the child’s prognosis.

Once a decision is made to get an evaluation, the next question to answer is where will we get these services? Luckily, there are many ways to do this but they all require a different procedure and have their strengths and drawbacks.

Options to explore:

See below for a list of these options which may be dependent on age, income or employment requirements:

This list is not absolutely exhaustive and other options that may be available to you.  Here are a few examples:

Grant funding
TriCare (military insurance)
Therapeutic day schools – more significant developmental or medical needs


At Speech Buddies we are committed to providing superior speech therapy solutions for all involved in the process (children, parents, caregivers, educators and fellow therapists).

Our Speech Buddies Tools have strong data to support their use with a wide range of speech delays. We also offer a free online directory for speech therapists nationwide on Speech Buddies Connect.

Lastly, we know the importance of setting up speech therapy promptly following a speech delay diagnosis.  Please feel free to email us at for guidance on how to get started. We’d welcome the opportunity to point you in the right direction of either local, regional or national resources that you’d have available to you.


By Gordy Rogers, M.S. CCC-SLP



Time-Series Analysis of First-Time Pediatric Speech Delays From 2018 to 2022

December 4, 2023 Brianna M. Goodwin Cartwright, MS1; Peter D. Smits, PhD1; Sarah Stewart, MD1; et al Patricia J. Rodriguez, PhD, MPH1; Samuel Gratzl, PhD1; Charlotte Baker, DrPH, MPH, CPH1; Nicholas Stucky, MD, PhD1
JAMA Pediatr. 2024;178(2):193-195. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.5226


Making the Most of Your School-Based Speech Services

Parents' Corner School Speech and Hearing Disorders Speech Therapy Techniques

Congratulations! You’ve made it off a waiting list for school-based speech therapy services for your child. Through no fault of their own, many school districts provide speech therapy in groups of three to five children – in some states, the legal maximum can be six.

You’re grateful for the chance to have the support for your child’s speech challenges, but may feel that it could be challenging to address your child’s specific speech challenge efficiently in a group of other children who also have their own very specific challenges and goals.

As a speech pathologist who has worked in both schools and in private practice, I emphasize supplementing your school-based services with home-based work to help your child reach their speech goals.

School-based speech pathologists are dedicated and passionate professionals. They’re not only educators but also pillars of the communities they serve.

However, they’re often faced with huge caseloads that prevent them from going that “extra mile” for your child. That’s why it is critical for parents to be empowered to support their own child’s speech journey directly.

Speech Buddies provide a solution to do that in two key ways:

1) They provide a specially designed and clinically proven way to cue your child to place and move his/her tongue exactly as it should for those hard-to-learn speech sounds that develop in late pre-kindergarten and early school years (e.g. R, L, SH, CH and S)

2) They come with actionable support and learning plans that empower you to be the most effective partner in your child’s therapy process.

Each speech sound requires your child to place the tongue specifically within the mouth. For example, with the commonly disarticulated S sound, if they place the tongue too far back or too far forward in their mouth, the S won’t come out right.

Using a hand-held delivery mechanism, the S Speech Buddy provides a clear and consistent target within the mouth for your child to hit each time. In many cases, Speech Buddies provide that “aha!” moment early in the therapy process, where your child just gets it.

This can be enormously motivating for your child and for you, and is the first crucial step toward remediating a speech challenge.

But, because your child has said that speech sound in the old, incorrect way literally hundreds of thousands of times in his or her young life, it’s essential you follow up with diligent practice so this new, correct way of speaking can quickly become habit.

We know that school-based group therapy essentially means that your child gets 5 to 10 minutes of directed attention for his or her specific speech goals.  Speech Buddies tools come with a comprehensive lesson plan to help support your child.

Speech pathologists welcome parent involvement, but school-based therapists can’t give 50-70 parents a home lesson plan each week. Our lesson plans provide a clear roadmap for success and help make your child’s speech pathologist’s job easier.

If your child is in a group of three at school and is in two 30-minute speech sessions per week, your child is really getting 20-minutes of directed speech therapy per week. So, even twenty solid minutes of home-based work with your child effectively doubles the practice your child is getting; forty minutes triples this time!

And many studies throughout the field of speech pathology have confirmed that parents can only help their children meet their goals faster.




The Invention of Speech Buddies Tools

The Invention of Speech Buddies Tools

News Parents' Corner R Sound Speech Disorders Speech Impediment Speech Therapy Techniques

People often ask us how we decided to invent Speech Buddies tools. We thought you might be interested in this video from CBS SmartPlanet that was put together on Speech Buddies called “Medical device takes the guess work out of speech therapy.” It shows part of our design and development process and details how Speech Buddies tools have been incorporated into a speech therapy regimen to reduce overall treatment time. Particularly for that stubborn R sound! Take a look and let us know what you think.


Tips for Drafting IEPs

Tips for Drafting IEPs

Individualized Education Program (IEP) School Speech Therapist Speech Therapy Techniques

Often, the beginning of the school year means drafting new Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals or updating older ones. This post is dedicated to tips on how you can get your students’ IEPs to best reflect their highest priority needs and make clinical gains this school year.

Write a Specific IEP

As you’re probably aware, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document. What’s included in it and signed by school district officials, therapists and parents binds the school district to providing services to meet the listed goals. If you strongly believe, in your informed clinical opinion as per a comprehensive evaluation, that a child would benefit from a particular methodology, it would be a good idea to include the specific name of that methodology. In pragmatics, this could include principles of social thinking; in auditory processing disorders, this could include dedicated software applications; in articulation, this could include PROMPT or tactile biofeedback (e.g. Speech Buddies Tools). Whatever methodology you include in an IEP goals list should be supported in the research literature and be drawn from a clear therapeutic rationale, based on your comprehensive assessment or extensive experience with that child.

What Does a Speech and Language Therapist Do?

Coordinate with Other Child Therapy Services

Because a child’s therapy services are part of a more holistic plan for his or her educational development, it’s important to coordinate goal drafting, especially those highest priority goals, with other members of that child’s team: other therapists, teachers and even parents. In other words, a particular goal or set of goals may, from a purely say language development standpoint, be most urgent. However, considering the current and future demands of a child’s curriculum, another set of goals may be more pressing. For Example, Rory at age 7 could be notably delayed in acquiring those frequently used irregular past tense verbs. While this could be the most obviously delayed part of his profile, his ELA teacher has told you that the coming semester will place a strong burden on his narrative skills. In order to parallel your work with that of the classroom, it may be indicated to modify your goals so Rory can get the most out of the coming unit in his ELA class. This I’ve found to be especially important when working with middle schoolers and high schoolers; they tend to not want speech and language services to be removed from their other academic work. It’s important that we respond to the student’s current educational life.

Errors in IEPs

I cannot tell you how often I’ve reviewed IEP goals and seen blatant errors. I’ve seen cases where the name on the front page of the IEP didn’t match the name listed on the IEP goals; I’ve seen grammatical gender errors (he vs she, etc.) and goals from other disciplines (e.g. OT and counseling and even remedial academic domains) included in the areas meant for speech and language goals. I’ve seen goals that simply make no sense in the context of a child’s true needs. Make sure you a give any IEP you are writing a thorough once-over before drafting your own goals. and if you’re reviewing an IEP written by another therapist and the content of the goals simply doesn’t match the needs of that child, consider amending the IEP.

I don’t need to tell you that the IEP is our principal guiding document. Given its importance, the above tips can provide act as a useful guide for how to maximize the effectiveness of an IEP. We at Speech Buddies wish you the best of luck as we all together embark on another great school year.

Get to Know Sandra Williams, CCC-SLP

Get to Know Sandra Williams, CCC-SLP

Expert Corner Hearing and Speech Speech Therapy Techniques

Speech Buddies:
How did you become a speech therapist?

SW: I became interested in speech pathology while completing my undergraduate degree.  I was well aware of the special needs population due to a family member receiving services throughout my childhood.  I developed a keen sense for those persons needing assistance to communicate effectively, while optimizing the strengths they already possessed.  After exploring several options, I realized the speech pathology was a great fit for me.

Speech Buddies: Do you have any specialties?

SW: I have spent the majority of my career working with the pediatric population, including children ages 0-3 through high school. I have developed the skill of being able to see the child’s strengths and systematically build on those strengths to address their challenge areas.  I have had success working with children on the autism spectrum, children with significant expressive language delays, children who have difficulties in the area of articulation, as well as, children exhibiting expressive language delays   I have also worked with children who have challenges in the area of fluency.

Speech Buddies: What is your favorite part of being a Speech Buddies Connect therapist?

SW: My favorite part of being a Speech Buddies’ connect therapist is the expediency with which services can begin and significant results can be achieved.  I love the motivation and engagement of the parents in this process which facilitates carryover of learned skills.  The process is streamline and  effective in matching eager clients with committed therapists.

Speech Buddies: What can clients expect from virtual therapy? What is different or beneficial about virtual therapy?

SW: Virtual therapy will allow flexibility in terms of scheduling for the client and for the therapist.   In this way, location and time constraints will not be a barrier in conducting effective therapy.  If the child is younger, the parent will play a direct role in carrying out the session objectives which can only help to solidify the acquisition of target skills.

Speech Buddies: What is one question you get most often from clients and parents?

SW: Most parents want to know what they can do to improve their child’s speech-language functioning.  I am able to give them strategies that they can employ during their natural interactions with their child to directly address areas of concern.  In many cases, it affirms what the parent is doing while also introducing them to new strategies they might want to try.  Parents begin to feel empowered that they, too can positively impact their child’s life in the area of communication.

Speech Buddies: What advice would you like to give to families considering seeking speech services?

SW: If parents are concerned about their child’s speech-language development, trust their instincts and seek assistance.  They can obviously speak to their pediatrician, and if concerns still remain contact the Department of Health, and/or contact Speech Buddies and have a general screening assessment done by a professional.  These initial assessments may allay their concerns or may indicate further testing and therapy is warranted.  Research indicates that the earlier a child receives therapeutic intervention when needed, the higher possibility of an overall positive  outcome.

Find out more about Sandra or book an appointment here.

4 Reasons to Supplement your School Speech Therapy with Private Therapy

4 Reasons to Supplement your School Speech Therapy with Private Therapy

School Speech Therapist Speech Therapy Techniques

There are many wonderful, publicly funded options for your family’s speech therapy services. These could come in the form of speech and language therapy provided by your local Early Intervention (EI) program, the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) administered by your local school district, or from services provided directly to your child in his or her public school or via something called a Related Service Authorization (RSA). You may also have access to services funded in whole or in part by your health insurance plan. No matter who is providing your school speech therapy, you may want to consider supplementing those services, where possible. Here are 4 reasons that these extra services may have a profound impact on your child’s development, and could be a smart investment in your child’s future.


School speech therapy services, or those provided by other public pay sources are invaluable to your child, your family, to society in general. But because of budgetary pressures, school districts and other public payers do not allow for parents to choose which speech-language pathologist their child can see. This is of course unfortunate as so much of any therapy relationship is based on a “good fit” between your child and the speech therapist. Private speech therapy services have the added benefit of allowing you maximum choice. Speech Buddies Connect gives you choice based on many different therapists in your local area so you can decide what is most important to you. Is it the speech therapist’s level of experience or qualifications with a particular speech or language challenge? Is it convenience in terms of schedule or location? No matter your priorities, you have your choice in finding the best speech-language pathologist (SLP) for your family.


Undivided Attention

In the case of school speech therapy in kindergarten and elementary school, services are most often provided in groups of 3
students, and sometimes up to 5 or more students. Again, this is primarily due to strains on the resources of the public school system; there are simply too many students in need of speech and language therapy for the number of speech therapists on staff.Benefits of speech therapy
This of course means that for every 30-minute session your child receives, he or she is only really getting 10 minutes of direct intervention that is specifically tailored to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals but is still missing that full 30 minutes of class time. I have had clients who have preferred to decline school speech therapy to work privately instead because of this very issue. Now I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you decline school-based services, particularly if your child is working on overcoming a language-based learning challenge. But private speech therapy does provide undivided attention which may provide a stronger learning environment for your child.



Public payers of speech therapy services also tend to offer reduced convenience in terms of where services take place. In the case of EI, services are almost always performed in the child’s home or day care facility. Very rarely do they approve services in the provider’s office. In the case of school-funded preschool speech and language therapy, there is more flexibility but in many cases, the school administrator will dictate whether services are conducted in the provider’s place of business. Depending on how contracts with the provider agencies and the local school district are structured, they may ask you to travel sometimes long distances to your speech therapy lessons. Private therapy allows you to choose your speech therapist for maximum personal convenience. And with our lives often so hectic these days, this benefit is not to be underestimated!


Another Hand on Deck

Speech and language development is incredibly important to a child’s whole course of life – there simply is no other way to put it. The sheer weight of this importance can be enough for parents to seek additional support for their children. Also, for many children, having another professional communication partner can be invaluable. You will also have another member of your team: someone who you can bounce ideas off of and someone whose experience could be a powerful complement to the team you already have in place. So if you feel that your child could you a boost and you already have public speech therapy services in place, it may be time to consider finding a local speech therapist through Speech Buddies Connect.


Parents' Guide to Speech Therapy in School

How to Prepare for Speech Therapy Home Visits

How to Prepare for Speech Therapy Home Visits

Speech Therapy Techniques

Perhaps you’ve already determined that you’d like to have your child seen by a speech pathologist and have had some of your initial questions answered. Many times your child’s speech therapy services can be delivered in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Especially for younger children (i.e. up to age 5), being “on their own turf” can really help foster rapport between your child and the clinician and make your child feel maximally comfortable as he or she works on something that may be somewhat challenging. This brief post is dedicated to providing parents with a few tips for maximizing the effectiveness of speech therapy home visits. The better prepared and knowledgeable you can be as you start the process of your home-based speech therapy, the more likely it is that your child will achieve his or her speech or language learning goals.

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Tips for Improving Your Toddler’s Speech Clarity

Tips for Improving Your Toddler’s Speech Clarity

Pronunciation & Lisps Speech Therapy for Kids Speech Therapy Techniques

It can take up to about second grade for a child to acquire fluent speech that is free of articulation errors. However, certain patterns of errors can make a child less understandable to his or her communication partners. This also applies to younger children. Today I wanted to highlight some of these patterns and give you, the parent, some suggestions for improving toddler speech clarity.

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Non-Speech Oral Motor Exercises to Treat Speech Disorders?

Non-Speech Oral Motor Exercises to Treat Speech Disorders?

Speech Therapy Techniques

Perhaps no other methodology has engendered more passionate opinion, and even controversy, in the field of speech pathology than non-speech oral motor exercises (NSOMEs). What’s all the fuss about and what are NSOMEs?

photo: World in a Bubble by Alexandre Normand

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When to Start Tongue Thrust Treatment?

When to Start Tongue Thrust Treatment?

Speech Impediment Speech Therapy Techniques

The phenomenon of tongue thrust is a rather murky one. As the name implies, tongue thrust is observed when the tongue protrudes through the child’s front teeth and is mostly caused by an imbalance in the oral muscles. However, there are other causes that I will address below. Our “What is Tongue Thrust?” Speech Buddies blog post is a great place to start for understanding the basics of tongue thrust. Among speech pathologists, there exists some controversy as to its impact on speech. Some therapists insist that any open-mouth posture, including tongue thrust, is an extremely significant clinical matter and that it will have a wide-ranging on a child’s speech development and even social development. Others will contend that a true tongue thrust that can impact speech clarity is quite rare and that, in fact, almost all children exhibit some form of tongue thrust which most will grow out of; the vast majority of these children will exhibit no speech challenge whatsoever. So what is the “truth” of the matter? Like many things, it can be somewhat nuanced. This blog post is dedicated to providing some actionable advice to parents as well as some tips for either intervening to correct a tongue thrust or “watchful waiting” so that in the event that tongue thrust treatment needs to be addressed, you will be maximally empowered, as a parent, to do so.

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