Speech therapy is an intervention, support and treatment for people experiencing speech disorders, communication disorders, and swallowing disorders.
Speech disorders can develop in multiple ways. They can occur due to: structural abnormalities, nerve injuries to the brain, developmental disabilities and muscular paralysis.
How does it work?
A speech and language pathologist (SLP) or speech therapist will determine the patient’s disorder and begin treatment. The SLP’s therapeutic exercises and activities will be implemented to begin the recovery journey of the patient. A child's therapy session can be done individually or in groups, according to the disorder they have.
Activities that an SLP will use include, language activities, articulation activities, and feeding and swallowing activities. Language activities help with talking difficulties, articulation activities with pronunciation while feeding and swallowing activities will strengthen the muscles in the mouth for better feeding.
An SLP can use speech therapy to treat several conditions, which include the following:
- Stuttering- Stuttering is a speech disorder that specialists characterize by the repetition of sounds, syllables, or words. A stammerer will often repeat or prolong words, syllables, or phrases.
- Aphasia- Aphasia is a language or speech disorder whose pathology indicates that damage to the parts of the brain is responsible for language and speech problems. Strokes are the main cause of Aphasia in adults. A person with aphasia may lose their ability to use and comprehend language, including reading and writing difficulties.
- Articulation disorders- Articulation disorders refer to people experiencing issues with the production of sound involving the coordinated movements of the lips, tongue, teeth, palate, and respiratory system. A person with phonological disorders can make some sounds correctly, but they may use them in the wrong position of a word.
- Specific language impairment- A specific language impairment (SLI) is a disorder that causes issues with language skills development in children. This disorder is also known as language delay.
- Resonance disorders- An obstruction to the normal airflow through a person’s mouth as they talk can trigger a resonance disorder.
The results of testing Speech therapy's effectiveness reveal that an average of 6 hours of speech therapy over 6 months significantly improved communication performance. Speech therapy was also much more effective than no treatment over the same period.
Here are some ways you can use to improve speech development at home:
- Focus on communication. Talk with your baby, sing, and encourage imitation of sounds and gestures.
- Read to your child. Start reading when your child is a baby. Look for age-appropriate soft or board books or picture books that encourage kids to look while you name the pictures.
- Use everyday situations. To build on your child's speech and language, talk your way through the day. Name foods at the grocery store, explain what you're doing as you cook a meal or clean a room, and point out objects around the house. Keep things simple, but avoid "baby talk."