Speech therapists help your child learn and master language skills, but that's far from all that they do. Depending on your child's development and needs, there are many issues that speech therapy can help address.

Speech Development Delays

If your child has a true speech development delay, then speech therapy certainly is appropriate. A speech therapist has the professional expertise necessary to identify the precise speech issue that your child is struggling with, and the therapist will know how to best address that issue.

Hearing Problems

Sometimes a child's speech development is delayed not because of a speech issue but because of a hearing problem. 

When children don't hear properly, they simply don't take in as many words and don't have the same amount of data to process their own speech after. Simply hearing issues, like excess water in the ears, and severe problems, such as deafness, can both cause speech delays.

In this type of situation, a speech therapist won't treat the underlying hearing issue. A medical professional is needed to fully assess your child's hearing abilities and determine an appropriate course of treatment for any problems with the ears, eardrums, or sound processing.

A speech therapist can, however, address the symptom of delayed speech development. They can work with your child to speed up their speech development both as the hearing issue is treated and afterward, until your child reaches a normal level of speech development.

Eating and Drinking Issues

If your child has significant eating and drinking issues, speech therapy might be used as a complement to other treatments. Speech therapy won't fix any picky eating issues or food sensitivities, but it can help address physical limitations that are cause problems with the intake of foods and drinks.

The oral muscles that a speech therapist studies and helps patients with are used for both speech and swallowing. Along with exercises to improve speech itself, a therapist will also know what exercises can increase the strength and improve the coordination of muscles that are needed for swallowing.

Cleft Lips and Palates

A cleft lip or palate must be surgically repaired before your child will have a full recovery from the condition. In most cases, however, this condition will cause speech delays because the mouth's structure is abnormal. A speech therapist can help overcome these delays and bring your child up to a normal speech development level for their age.