Updated: Apr 7, 2022
Our speech therapists at Total Communication Therapy often get asked the question, "How long does speech therapy take?" Much like the phrase, 'How long is a piece of string?', it's a very difficult question to answer as it depends.
When a child comes for assessment at Total Communication Therapy, they complete a series of tests that determine their abilities across different modalities such as speech, comprehension, expression, pragmatic language, and executive function. They may also require additional investigation in other areas such as literacy, math, and motor skills (e.g. handwriting) if those areas have been flagged. It is the results of these speech and language therapy assessments that help determine how long the child will need therapy for.
On a more concrete level, how long does speech therapy take? Well, a session takes 1 hour and some children attend once or twice a week. For more complex cases, for example a child on the Autism Spectrum, they may attend "intensives" which comprises of half day or full day attendance 3-5 times per week either by themselves or in a group.
The total course of therapy cannot, however, be measured like a curriculum. The goals will depend on the child's attention, motivation, pace of learning, and how far they have to go to bridge the gap between their current level and that of their peers. It also depends on other factors such as frequency of therapy (e.g. once versus twice per week) and any underlying conditions (e.g. ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, etc.)
Some speech sound disorders take 3-6 months to resolve whereas a condition such as Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is lifelong and may involve continuous therapy for years.
One other consideration is the age of the child; Leaving it longer to see if the child will spontananeously recover is harmful and can lead to complications down the line. Early intervention is always better. Do not "wait and see" but contact a therapist as soon as possible to allieviate any fear. If one thing is clear, it is that therapy takes significantly longer the later it is started.