What is speech therapy?

Speech therapy is used to assess and treat language and speech disorders in children and speech impairments in adults caused by brain injury or stroke. Speech-language pathology is practiced by speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists SLP’s evaluate, diagnose and treat speech disorders, language disorders, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders. They also play a great role in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder along with pediatricians and psychologists. 

Types of speech disorders

Speech-language pathologists diagnose what kind of language or speech problem the patient has and then decide what will be the best treatment. There are many speech and language disorder some of which are discussed below:

Speech disorders

Language disorders

Apart from speech and language problems, SLP’s also deal with swallowing disorders which may include problems in any part of the swallowing process.

Speech therapy techniques 

There are many speech therapy techniques that can be used to improve communication depending on the type of speech or language disorder.

Speech therapy for children:

Speech therapy for children may be in a classroom setting, in a small group or an individual session. A speech-language pathologist will determine what kind of speech therapy the child needs according to the child’s age, disorder, and needs. The different strategies used by SLP’s include:

Speech therapy for adults

Speech therapy for adults also starts with the identification of the needs of the patient and the specific treatment that they will require. SLP’s help adult patients by using exercises and strategies that will help them with speech, language, and cognitive problems. They also help them with feeding or swallowing disabilities as are seen with Parkinson’s disease or oral cancer. These exercises and strategies include:

How long does one need speech therapy

It is better to begin speech therapy as soon as possible. Starting therapy early in childhood (before 5 years of age) has shown better results than when it is started later. However, this does not mean that therapy will not prove beneficial to older kids. They might progress slower as they will have to unlearn some of the patterns that need to be changed. Some disorders of childhood improve with increasing age but others continue into adult life and need long-term therapy for improvement. Communication disorders due to medical conditions like a stroke may get better with treatment for the causative condition.

The length of time a patient requires speech therapy varies and depends on certain factors, such as:

A patient’s speech therapy may last for months or even years depending on the patient’s needs. One has to remember that speech therapy is not a cure for speech or language disorder but it will only help improve the disabilities and that the underlying speech or language disorder will still exist.

Role of parents/caretakers

The success of a child’s progress in speech therapy also depends on the involvement of the parents. Children whose parents are involved in their process of speech therapy have shown to finish the program in a shorter period of time and with long-lasting results. SLP’s can involve parents and caretakers by giving them and the patient strategies to deal with problems at home. Parents can help children by practicing with them at home to improve the skills that they are learning. This ensures continuous improvement and training of new skills. The parent or caretaker must keep in mind that overcoming a speech or language problem can be difficult and requires a lot of time and effort so they must be calm and understanding with the patient.

References

  1. Backus A, Beasley J. Speech therapy with children.
  2. VAN DEMARK PH, Hardin MA. Effectiveness of Intensive Articulation Therapy for. Cleft Palate Journal. 1986 Jul;23(3).
  3. Nelson RO, Evans IM. The combinations of learning principles and speech therapy techniques in the treatment of non-communicating children. Child Psychology & Psychiatry & Allied Disciplines. 1968.
  4. Scott S, Caird FI. Speech therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 1983 Feb 1;46(2):140-4.

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