How Much Do You Know About Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is the medical diagnosis and treatment of speech impediments and communication problems. Such speech impediments commonly found in children may include speech delay speech disorder, among other speech-related conditions. Speech therapists or speech-language pathologists identify and treat these conditions using several medical techniques. However, it may impair learning through socialization, reading, and writing, especially in children if not treated.
Identifying Speech Problems
Speech problems vary in form and complexity; thus, the mode of treatment varies across the specific types of speech problems. The most usual identifiers of underlying speech problems include
- Stuttering: It may be attributed to slowed development or an inherent inability of the brain to form coherent speech
- Errors are articulating: Think of a lisp; when a speaker is unable to position his tongue to pronounce certain words
- Tongue-tie: The literal tying of the tongue causes the inability to move the tongue.
- Selective Mutism: It happens when the ability to speak gets severely hindered in certain situations and places.
Who Needs Speech Therapy
Children form a significant percentage of those who suffer from speech-related conditions. That happens due to lagged development, shyness, or social introversion. Most of these conditions are treatable through speech therapy, with a few exceptions making their way to adulthood.
On the other hand, adults may also suffer from speech problems necessitating speech therapy. Some causes include injury, stroke, or complications from other diseases.
In addition to the markers of speech discussed previously, the disorders associated with speech formation that are treatable with speech therapy include;
- Resonance Disorders: This is a distortion in the voice caused by a blockage in the nasal passageway. Such conditions result from neurological illnesses or tonsillitis.
- Expressive Disorders: People with expressive disorders have difficulty communicating clearly and forming complete sentences. That may be a symptom of genetic conditions such as Down’s syndrome.
- Receptive Disorders: While people with expressive disorders struggle to convey communication, sensory disorders manifest themselves causing an inability to reeve and process information.
The Methodology of Speech Therapy
Speech therapists utilize some vital criteria in treating the condition depending on the nature and cause of a specific speech problem. The therapist will focus on reading skills, i.e., rhyming words with others already familiar with the patient, forming complex sentences using joiner words to deliver meaning, teaching new vocabulary to improve the speaker’s confidence in using words. Other parameters include conversation, where therapists actively engage the child in making conversation and the improvement of social cues by interaction with other children.
These criteria form the basis of treatment through various techniques and exercises. For children, they include;
- Building language: The treatment entails a highly interactive exercise that employs visual tools like books, photos, and videos. Its goal is to use and develop language by highlighting proper pronunciation and using verbs, nouns, and pronouns to communicate clearly and effectively.
- Articulation: It is a subset of language exercises that focus more on syllables to help the child or adult to pronounce words correctly by ‘articulating’ them in sentences and conversation
- Swallowing therapy: It helps strengthen the tongue and its adjacent muscles to make the patient aware of their oral senses when they speak or eat.
- Sensory Pointers: It aims at making the child aware of their voice and manner of speaking. The speech therapist may use recordings of the child vocalizing some words and compare them to a different speaker pronouncing the exact words correctly and using them for communication.
- Cognitive Treatment: It involves using games, riddles, memory activities, and completing tasks.
In adults, speech therapy focuses on re-orienting the patient to use speech effectively. The speech pathologist tends to focus on several exercises including;
- Social stimulation – engaging directly with the patient through role play in different scenarios that are familiar to the speaker. That improves the speaker’s confidence and reinforces negotiation, conflict resolution, and memory retention skills.
- Breathing exercises: It is necessary to calm down and clear the nasal passage
- Mouth Exercises: The goal is to strengthen the jaws, tongue, and vocal cords.
What You Can Do At Home
As a parent, spouse, or guardian helping a loved one with speech therapy, the effectiveness of the process can get accelerated by some exercises and routines.
- Make them comfortable– Effective learning starts by doing what you like. To encourage someone with a speech problem to overcome it, try incorporating exercises in their favorite activities. Applaud minor improvements, be gentle and stay consistent no matter how tough it may be in the beginning. Small wins win the battle and foster the confidence to improve speech.
- Be Mindful – Listen, be attentive and be present each step of the way. A speech problem coupled with the feeling that you would rather be doing something else does not help the cause. Avoid talking down to them and face each new day as an adventure.
- Explore the universe and its bountiful knowledge– One of the best habits anyone can develop is reading. Books give us the chance to reach the unknown and discover something new. As such, they give us a glimpse into alternate worlds and teach us new lessons. Encouraging the habit of reading to someone with a speech problem gears them up for new words and ideas. The words and ideas are the foundation of excellent communication through speech.
Speech impediments and problems affect both adults and children. The causes may differ, but the treatment unequivocally relies on timely diagnosis, professional assistance, and a robust support system from guardians and family members. A speech problem is mainly treatable, and studies show that speech therapy can be very effective in treating many of them. By employing medical techniques, technology such as speech apps, and ongoing research, it is possible to overcome speech problems with consistency and deliberate effort.