Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy – More than Talk

RCH’s Speech-language Pathologists help patients use their muscles properly to not only make the right sounds for communicating but also for improving swallowing functions. Recognizing swallowing or communication deficiencies in a timely manner can alleviate frustration for patients and prevent further complications from developing.

Below are just a few examples of how RCH’s Speech-language Pathologist might be able to help you or your family.

Tara Staab, MS, CCC-SLP

Phone: 785-688-4437
Fax: 785-688-4496 

“Tara Staab did an excellent job of helping/encouraging our daughter to speak more. I definitely learned ways to encourage my daughter to speak. I will be recommending Tara to others that need or are looking for speech therapy. Thanks!”

Preschool Language Milestones

  • From birth to 3 months a child should be able to express themselves by making cooing sounds, their cry changes for different needs and they smile at people. To evaluate hearing and understanding the child should startle at loud sounds, becomes quiet or smiles when you talk by seeming to recognize your voice.
  • From age 4-6 months a child should be cooing and babbling when playing alone or with someone else making speech-like sounds such as pa, ba and mi. They should be able to giggle and laugh making sounds when happy or upset. To gauge understanding watch that their eyes move in the direction of sounds or responds to changes in your tone of voice.
  • From age 7-12 months, a child should be babbling long strings of sounds like mimi, upup, babababa and uses gestures and sounds to get and keep your attention. Including gestures like pointing to objects, waving bye, reaching for “up” and shaking their head “no”. At this point they may say 1 or 2 words but sounds may not be clear. To measure understanding watch that the child turns and looks in the direction of sounds as well as when you point to something.

How can you help at this age:​

  • Check if your child can hear. See if she turns to noises or looks at you when you talk. Pay attention to ear problems and infections. Be sure to see your doctor.
  • Respond to your child. Look at him when he makes noises. Talk to him. Imitate the sounds he makes.
  • Laugh when she does. Imitate the faces she makes.
  • Teach your baby to imitate actions, like peek-a-boo, clapping, blowing kisses, and waving bye-bye. This teaches him how to take turns. We take turns when we talk.
  • Talk about what you do during the day. Say things like “Mommy is washing your hair”; “You are eating peas”; and “Oh, these peas are good!”
  • Talk about where you go, what you do there, and who and what you see. Say things like, “We are going to Grandma’s house. Grandma has a dog. You can pet the dog.”
  • Teach animal sounds, like “A cow says ‘moo.’”
  • Read to your child every day.
  • Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.


By 2 years of age:

  • A child should be able to express themselves using a lot of new words, including words that use p, b, m h, and w in the words.
  • They should start to name pictures in books and ask questions like “What’s that?”, “Who’s that?”, and “Where’s kitty?”.
  • Begins to put two words together like “more apple”, “no bed”, and “mommy book”
  • To assess a child’s hearing and understanding they should be able to point to a few body parts when you ask and follow 1-part directions like “roll the ball” or “kiss the baby”.
  • They should be able to respond to simple questions like “Who’s that?” or “Where’s your shoe”.
  • They should be able to listen to simple stories, songs and rhymes, as well as, point to pictures in a book when you name them.

How you can help at this age:

  • Talk to your child as you do things and go places. For example, when taking a walk, point to and name what you see. Say things like, “I see a dog. The dog says ‘woof.’ This is a big dog. This dog is brown.”
  • Use short words and sentences that your child can imitate. Use correct grammar.
  • Talk about sounds around your house. Listen to the clock tick, and say “t-t-t.” Make car or plane sounds, like “v-v-v-v.”
  • Play with sounds at bath time. You are eye-level with your child. Blow bubbles and make the sound “b-b-b-b.” Pop bubbles and make a “p-p-p-p” sound. Engines on toys can make the “rrr-rrr-rrr” sound.
  • Add to words your child says. For example, if she says “car,” you can say, “You’re right! That is a big red car.”
  • Read to your child every day. Try to find books with large pictures and a few words on each page. Talk about the pictures on each page.
  • Have your child point to pictures that you name.
  • Ask your child to name pictures. He may not answer at first. Just name the pictures for him. One day, he will surprise you by telling you the name.
  • Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.

By 3 years of age:

  • A child should be able to express themselves by talking about things that are not in the room and people who know your child can understand him/her.
  • They should almost have a word for everything including words with k, g, f, t, d and n, in the words.
  • They use two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things and use words like in, on and under.
  • To gauge hearing and comprehension, a child should be able to understand opposites, like go-stop, big-little, and up-down. They should be able to follow 2-part directions like “Get the spoon and put it on the table.”
  • Understands new words quickly.

How you can help at this age:

  • Use short words and sentences. Speak clearly.
  • Repeat what your child says and add to it. If she says, “Pretty flower,” you can say, “Yes, that is a pretty flower. The flower is bright red. It smells good too. Do you want to smell the flower?”
  • Let your child know that what he says is important to you. Ask him to repeat things that you do not understand. For example, say, “I know you want a block. Tell me which block you want.”
  • Teach your child new words. Reading is a great way to do this. Read books with short sentences on each page.
  • Talk about colors and shapes.
  • Practice counting. Count toes and fingers. Count steps.
  • Name objects and talk about the picture on each page of a book. Use words that are similar, like mommy, woman, lady, grown-up, adult. Use new words in sentences to help your child learn the meaning.
  • Put objects into a bucket. Let your child remove them one at a time and say its name. Repeat what she says and add to it. Help her group the objects into categories, like clothes, food, animals.
  • Cut out pictures from magazines and make a scrapbook. Help your child glue the pictures into the scrapbook. Name the pictures and talk about how you use them.
  • Look at family photos and name the people. Talk about what they are doing in the picture.
  • Write simple phrases under the pictures. For example, “I can swim,” or “Happy birthday to Daddy.” Your child will start to understand that the letters mean something.
  • Ask your child to make a choice instead of giving a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, rather than asking, “Do you want milk?” ask, “Would you like milk or water?” Be sure to wait for the answer and praise him for answering. You can say, “Thank you for telling mommy what you want. Mommy will get you a glass of milk.”
  • Sing songs, play finger games, and tell nursery rhymes. These songs and games teach your child about the rhythm and sounds of language.
  • Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.

By 4 years of age:

  • A child should be able to express themselves by putting four words together with some mistakes and talks about what happened during the day using four sentences at a time.
  • Asks when and how questions while also being able to answer simple who, what and where questions.
  • Uses some plural words and pronouns like I, you, me, we and they.

How you can help at this age:

  • Cut out pictures from old magazines. Make silly pictures by gluing parts of different pictures together. For example, cut out a dog and a car. Glue the dog into the car as the driver. Help your child explain what is silly about the picture.
  • Sort pictures and objects into categories, like food, animals, or shapes. Ask your child to find the picture or object that does not belong. For example, a baby does not belong with the animals.
  • Read, sing, and talk about what you do and where you go. Use rhyming words. This will help your child learn new words and sentences.
  • Read books with a simple story. Talk about the story with your child. Help her retell the story, or act it out with props and dress-up clothes. Tell her your favorite part of the story. Ask for her favorite part.
  • Look at family pictures. Have your child tell a story about the picture.
  • Help your child understand by asking him questions. Have him try to fool you with his own questions. Make this a game by pretending that some of his questions fool you.
  • Act out daily activities, like cooking food or going to the doctor. Use dress-up and role-playing to help your child understand how others talk and act. This will help your child learn social skills and how to tell stories.
  • Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.


Swallowing Therapy

  • Do you often cough or choke when eating or drinking?
  • Do you often have the sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest?
  • Are you finding it difficult to chew food properly?
  • Do you feel like you or your family member’s eating or chewing habits have changed?

This may be due to loss of swallowing function. If you notice persistent saliva, wet (gurgly) sounds when eating please discuss this with your medical provider. As we age some of the reflexes we take for granted require attention. Undiagnosed swallowing disorders can lead to life-threatening complications such as pneumonia due to silently aspirating a foreign substance into your lungs when you thought it was swallowed. RCH’s Speech Therapist can evaluate your swallowing function to recommend exercises to improve swallow function. Ask your primary care provider to request a referral with RCH’s Speech Therapist.

Services Provided

  • Aphasia Rehab (expressive and receptive language skills)
  • Apraxia Rehab (oral/verbal)
  • Augmentative/Alternative Communication
  • Communication difficulty resulting from diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Dysarthria Rehab
  • Linguistic-Cognitive Rehabilitation (traumatic brain injury, stroke, dementia)
  • Speech & Language Therapy (acquired)
  • Speech & Language Therapy (delayed/developmental, pediatric)
  • Stuttering Therapy
  • Swallowing Therapy
  • Voice Therapy