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Skill Builders
Speech-Language and Occupational Therapy  
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Speech-Language Pathololgy - FAQ


Skill Builders' speech-language pathology practice is led by owner/director Cari Syron. Cari's experience in both private practice and public school settings gives her a unique understanding of the therapuetic landscape patients and parents must navigate. Skill Builder's is proud to have served the Northern Virgina and Greater Washington DC communities for more than 20 years. While we have provided some initial information to frequently asked questions below; please do not hesitate to contact us directly at (703) 941-7757 or speech-info@skillbuildersllc.com if you have additional questions.




What is Speech-Language Pathology?

Speech-language pathology is the study of disorders that affect a person’s speech, language, cognition, voice, or swallowing and the rehabilitation or corrective treatment of physical and/or cognitive deficits/disorders resulting in difficulty with communication and/or swallowing. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) address speech production, swallowing/feeding difficulties and language needs through treatment in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, and through private practice.


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How do I know if my child needs Therapy?

Some signs of possible difficulties include:

  • Lack of language production – typically children begin to babble by 9 months of age and have a vocabulary of approximately 50 words by 18 months of age.
  • Lack of imitation and/or imitative play by 12 months
  • Unresponsiveness to sounds, toys, faces
  • Difficulty transitioning from breast/bottle to cups
  • Difficulty transitioning to solid foods and/or between food stages
  • Limited interaction, eye contact, and/or play with others
  • Repetitive play and/or behaviors
  • Unintelligible speech – typically a child’s speech should be at least 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener by 3 years of age.
  • Difficulty following directions and answering questions
  • Difficulty acquiring reading skills and comprehending what is read
  • Delayed acquisition of various speech sounds – typically a child should be able to produce all speech sounds in most contexts by 6 years of age.
  • Challenges in social environments including carrying on a conversation with peers, attending to and responding appropriately to several conversational exchanges, understanding sarcasm, etc
  • Telling stories – novel or previously heard
  • Difficulties with syntax, varied vocabulary use, grammar, etc.

If you have any questions about whether your child should be evaluated and/or undergo treatment for the type of delay or difficulty you are observing, please call and speak with our scheduling coordinator.  She will be able to tell you whether what you are noticing is typical given your child’s age or is something that should be assessed.

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What does Skill Builders offer?

  • A staff of experienced, licensed speech-language pathologists
  • Evaluations -
  • Individual treatment sessions tailored to each client's specific needs
  • NEW group sessions!
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Coordination and co-treatments with occupational therapists
  • Sessions utilizing stimulating equipment in a fun, exciting atmosphere
  • Consultation with teachers and the client's school
  • Home/school visits
  • Preschool consultation/screenings (see below)
  • Presentations/workshops for parents, teachers, and general community
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What are the services offered to preschools?

Skill Builders offers speech, language, hearing, and sensorimotor screenings onsite at many preschools, private schools, and daycare programs in the area. Consultations and on-site therapy is also available.  Workshops on various topics including general language development, ways to facilitate fine motor development, reasons to refer, etc are also offered and available for parents or teachers.  Please contact Cari Syron at 703-941-7757 x101 for more information on these services.

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Will I be able to watch or participate in my child’s therapy sessions?

All of Skill Builders’ therapy rooms are equipped with an observation window so that parents may observe their child’s treatment session.  Depending on your child’s individual needs, the speech pathologist may also invite you to participate in your child’s therapy session.  Typically, each therapy session at Skill Builders includes time for parent discussion and review.

Each family will then be asked to carry over any techniques and/or methods used in therapy, in to their daily life. This is necessary to promote generalization of learned skills and ensure that progress made in therapy continues at home, school, and/or other communication environments the child participates in.

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How long will my child be in therapy?

Each child's participation in speech therapy is based on his/her individual needs and the availability of the family.  Most children attend weekly speech sessions, while others are monitored on a monthly basis.  We see most children for an average of two years, with changes made in frequency of sessions, as appropriate.  Progress re-evaluations, on-going input from the parents, and updates from the teachers and other professionals involved, are used to determine the most appropriate “graduation” date.

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Will insurance cover therapy?

Skill Builders provides current diagnostic and procedural codes on each billing statement, as required by insurance companies, for the family to submit.  While we are not listed as in-network providers with any insurance plans, most insurance companies do cover portions of speech services at your plan’s out-of-network rates.  Each person’s policy differs, so it is best to check with your plan manager or call the insurance company directly to determine coverage.  Please let us know what requirements, if any, your insurance company has for pre-authorization, prior to your first visit. Some families are able to get Skill Builders’ services covered at in-network rates due to the limited availability of in-network providers in the area.  However, the family will still be required to submit the claims to the insurance company themselves.

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What skills does a full or comprehensive assessment evaluate?

Each evaluation is tailored to the child’s individual needs so the types of assessment tools used vary.  In general, however, a full evaluation will assess a child’s receptive and expressive language abilities, social skills, articulation and oral motor skills, and language processing abilities. Other areas assessed include reading, spelling, phonological awareness, fluency, voice and written language abilities.  Characteristics of auditory processing disorders are also noted although an official diagnosis of an auditory processing disorder must come from an audiologist trained in the evaluation of auditory processing disorders. 

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What qualifications are required of the speech therapists at Skill Builders?

All of our speech pathologists have completed their Master’s degree in speech pathology and hold current VA licenses.  They have also all completed the 9 month required supervisory period in order to hold the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC).  Continuing education is an ongoing, important, and required part of employment at Skill Builders. Examples of some of the specialized trainings our therapists have received are as follows:

  • The PROMPT method for treating children with motor planning disorders
  • Debra Beckman’s oral motor assessment and treatment
  • SOS program for feeding disorders
  • Wilson Reading System
  • Read Naturally
  • Visualizing and Verbalizing
  • LIPS – Lindamood Bell reading program
  • For children with autism or other social communication disorders:
    • RDI – Relationship Development Intervention
    • ABA/AVB – Applied Behavioral Analysis or Applied Verbal Behavior
    • Floortime
    • SCERTS – Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, and Transactional Support
    • ABLC – Affect Based Language Curriculum
  • Fast ForWord
  • Lidcombe program for children with fluency disorders
  • Compton program for accent reduction
  • And more!!!

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What age group do you serve?

We see children ages birth to 18 in both our McLean and Annandale offices.  In addition, some of our speech therapists are experienced in assessing and treating adult patients presenting with a variety of disorders related to a stroke, traumatic brain injury, developmental disorders, etc.

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Do you offer co-treatment sessions?

Yes! We frequently recommend cotreatment sessions in which your child is seen by an occupational therapist and speech therapist at the same time.  This is appropriate when your child has significant sensory, motor planning, or fine or gross motor needs in conjunction with a language or motor speech disorder.  This type of session is most often used with our children presenting with autism spectrum disorders but has also been a very effective treatment option for children with apraxia, Down syndrome, and significant language or auditory processing disorders.  Cotreatment with an occupational therapist allows the speech pathologist to focus in on what they are best at, treating speech or language disorders, while the occupational therapist can address the child’s sensorimotor needs. Often in traditional individual treatment sessions, the speech pathologist notes that the child’s sensorimotor needs are hindering their progress in speech/language therapy while the OT observes that the child’s language or speech needs are negatively impacting their progress towards their OT objectives. By combining the two approaches, we are able to see faster and more significant progress in the same amount of time.  When the child is ready we will eventually split back into two separate sessions as needed and appropriate.  If you think your child may benefit from this treatment option, please feel free to discuss it when speaking with the scheduling coordinators. 

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List of Websites/Helpful Information:

Check out our Resources page for a list of websites that provide useful information for parents and teachers regarding a variety of topics related to speech-language and occupational therapy.



Skill Builders LLC
Annandale - McLean
(703) 941-7757
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