A Quick Guide to Speech Therapy

Speech therapy is the evaluation of communication problems by a Speech-Language Pathologist or SLP.

A speech language pathologist is someone who holds a master’s degree and is certified to thoroughly evaluate reasons affecting a person’s ability to communicate and give recommendations and personalized therapy sessions to anyone who may need help.

Not all communication issues stem from physical deformities, disease, or long-term illness. Some can be caused by trauma and take longer to not only diagnose but can also take considerably longer to treat.

There can be several reasons why someone might have trouble communicating and while this is not a complete list, some of the issues that may be to blame include:

Articulation Disorders: Disorders that effect the way someone speaks, how clearly, they pronounce words, and can be understood fall under articulation disorders.

Any illness or disease that effects the throat and mouth can greatly affect the way someone sounds when they talk. Stroke, autism, and degenerative diseases like Huntington’s or Parkinson’s, along with others fall under this category of articulation-related speech problems.

Fluency Issues: Fluency effects the flow of speech as someone talks. Slurred speech or speech that is jumbled or so fast that the words tumble over each other all fall under an issue with fluency. Stuttering and cluttering are two examples that fit this category of speech issues.

Resonance Disorders: When discussing issues with speech resonance, this category covers everything that effects the flow of air through the nasal and mouth cavities during speech.

A deviated septum, soft palate, cleft palate; are just some of the issues that can affect speech resonance. Other more common issues can include colds and infections that clog the nasal passages.

Receptive disorders: Disorders that affect someone’s ability to understand spoken language are classified as receptive language disorders. Disorders that fit this category are Down Syndrome, Autism, developmental impairments, premature birth delays, etc.

Because this disorder usually starts in children while they are very young, it is important to find a therapist as early as possible to prevent further loss of language understanding as this can lead to plenty of miscommunication instances.

Expressive Disorders: Expressive disorders are injuries or illnesses that affect a person’s ability to express themselves through speech, writing, and or gesturing.

Common among school-aged children, these disorders can result in a lack of human relationships or lead to frustration and misunderstanding in familial interactions and those which occur with the general public.

Cognitive-Communication Issues: These disorders stem from any illness or injury that results in damage to parts of the brain responsible for cognition. They may affect all the following, memory, problem solving, organizational skills, the ability to reason, attention issues, etc.

While all speech issues are serious, cognitive-communication problems can cause the farthest-reaching damage because they can affect so many aspects of a person’s ability to interact normally with family, friends, peers, etc.

Aphasia: Aphasia is a speech disorder that can come on suddenly after a stroke or brain injury, or happen slowly due to a tumor or disease. Unlike other speech issues, aphasia is only an issue with the brain.

Dysarthria: This speech disorder is caused by damaged or weakened muscles around the throat, larynx, and/or vocal cords that cause the person to be unable to make the appropriate sounds for correct, normal speech.

Therapy for Children

While speech issues are categorized the same for children, teens, and adults; the treatments can be vastly different. The core principles of health and healing are the same, the approach to that concept needs modifications for children that aren’t required for adults. Here are a few of the ways speech therapists help children overcome their language disorders and issues.

  • The SLP may interact with your child through talking and playing, using books, toys, and other objects to help stimulate language development.
  • The therapist may model correct sound and language to help children learn through play that is geared toward the child’s age and developmental acuity.
  • Caregivers and parents will get help with homework and special assignments to encourage children to learn at home the things they’ve been taught during therapy.

Adult Therapy Markers

For adults, the therapy has the same agenda, teaching them language principles to help improve their skills, but the execution is different. For adults, the focus is on improving long-term skills to give a better quality of life as quickly as possible.

  • Cognitive Communication-problem solving, memory skills, and organization are all on the list here for helping adults vastly and quickly improve their cognitive abilities.
  • Social Skills-conversational strategies to help adults make positive gains in their social abilities
  • Resonance Therapy-Breathing and oral exercises can greatly improve problems with resonance.

Considering that for nearly a year now we’ve all been isolated from the larger population, having new and innovative ways to work from home on speech issues is always helpful. There are several exercises that are great to try out at home including, but not limited to:

  • Workbooks and audio books-to help with everyday language issues
  • Toys and Games-including flips and flashcards to make learning correct speech fun
  • Mobile Apps-to helps with speech therapy anytime, anywhere.

The year has proved tough for everyone across the earth and there’s no mistaking that we’ve all suffered one way or another. For those needing therapy sessions that just couldn’t happen, however, the suffering can be keen.

As we begin to return to some semblance of normal, using the at-home tools and contacting your personal therapist about in-person visits can go a long way in helping people with speech issues tackle not just the everyday issues they face, but make a long-term plan for the future.

Whether that means continued therapy once or twice a week, virtual sessions until COVID-19 is completely under control or continuing at-home education is yet to be seen.

One thing is for certain, however, and that’s the fact that no matter what, we are stronger together and when it comes to anyone with a learning disability or issue, we’ll be there to help.