1) What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy, better known as speech-language pathology, is a field of expertise that involves the assessment, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of different communication disorders, including speech and language impairment. Speech therapy can improve the communication skills of a child suffering from various speech or language problems. It can also help individuals having voice disorders, cognitive-communication disorders and swallowing disorders.
Additionally, speech therapy plays a vital role in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. While certain speech problems improve with age, others tend to remain for years or even for a lifetime, and hence, require long-term therapy and assistance.
2) Who is a Speech Therapist?
A speech-language pathologist (SLP), commonly known as a speech therapist, is a healthcare professional who helps kids having different kinds of speech or language impairments to speak better. A speech therapist must have a Master’s degree, along with a valid license to practice. Apart from improving a child’s communication, an SLP can also help him/her with cognitive development, emotional and social development, and motor skill development.
3) Who Needs Speech Therapy?
If your child is having any speech difficulties, including trouble pronouncing certain words or sounds, stammering or even language impairment, he or she would need to undergo speech therapy. Speech therapy can treat the following common types of speech and language disorders –
- Apraxia of speech
- Developmental verbal dyspraxia
- Specific language impairment
- Orofacial myofunctional disorders
- Speech sound disorder
- Voice disorders
However, apart from kids, speech disorders might also occur in adults due to several factors like stroke, brain or neck injury, facial paralysis, damaged vocal cords, autism, down syndrome, dementia and others. Speech therapy might also help them regain their lost communication abilities.
4) Recovery With Speech Therapy
The success rates of speech therapy depend upon the type and intensity of the disorder and the age group being treated. The outcome of speech-language therapy also depends upon whether the person has already learnt language skills before (post-lingual) or is yet to acquire speech and language skills (pre-lingual). Other factors include –
- The environment he/she is growing up
- Support from family, teachers and friends
- Underlying health conditions like hearing impairment, autism, down syndrome, etc.
The earlier you start your kid’s speech therapy sessions, the greater and faster will be the chances of improvement.
5) How Does It Work?
SLPs analyse the problems faced by the kids and determine the factors causing their speech disorders. After that, the speech therapist would decide which treatment procedure to implement to get the best results. An SLP might work with the kids in one-on-one therapy sessions, in small groups or even in large groups in a classroom environment, and assist them in building their communication skills.
Speech therapy techniques used to improve speech and language of kids include –
- Articulation Therapy
- Language Intervention Therapy
- Swallowing Therapy
- Oral Motor Therapy
- LSVT (Lee Silverman Speech Therapy)
- VitalStim Therapy
Speech therapy can not only help your child speak better and more clearly, but also assist him/her in becoming more self-confident. Moreover, better speech can enable kids to become more successful in academics and future career paths, while also strengthening their social and intellectual skills.