Speech Therapy for Kids Who Don’t Use Words


If your child doesn’t say any words, and you have elected to have them evaluated for speech therapy, you may be concerned that he or she will not be able to participate fully in their speech therapy sessions. This is not the case at all. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is specially trained to work with children at all levels of communication ability, including those who don’t use spoken words.

An SLP will encourage your child to use spoken words through play-based therapy. They will engage with your child using a variety of toys, games and other activities while modeling words. They may also work with your child on following simple directions such as “put in” to put a chicken in its nest. Through this modeling, your child will be encouraged to use their spoken words.

Sometimes, children need other ways to communicate besides spoken language. The SLP may introduce an augmentative or alternative communication approach. This is a long name that simply means communicating in some way other than using words. The child can learn to use gestures or sign language, picture boards, a talking iPad, or other augmentative or alternative communication. Using this approach does not mean a child will never use their words, and also does not slow down their progress toward using words. In fact, it can make their progress faster.

An SLP’s main goal is to help your child communicate effectively. Through a combination of modeling speech and providing alternative means of communication, they will make sure your child learns how to best get their message across. The SLP will actively involve the parent in all therapy sessions, so that you can learn how to do the same things with your child throughout the week.