Speech therapy is the assessment and treatment of communication problems and speech disorders. It is performed by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), which are often referred to as speech therapists.
Speech therapy techniques are used to improve communication. These include articulation therapy, language intervention activities, and others depending on the type of speech or lpanguage disorder.
Speech therapy may be needed for speech disorders that develop in childhood or speech impairments in adults caused by an injury or illness, such as stroke or brain injury.
Role of speech therapist:
Speech therapist does much more than simply teaching a child to correctly pronounce words. In fact, a speech therapist working with an autistic child may work on a wide range of skills including:
- Speech articulation: by oromotor exercises of lip and facial muscles, the way a child moves mouth while saying certain words and sounds.
- Communication: This includes teaching gestural communication, or training with PECS (picture exchange cards), electronic talking devices, and other non-verbal communication tools
- Comprehension: The speech therapist engages the child in a functional language activity that involve cognition and social interaction.
- Speech pragmatics: Use of speech to build social relationships.
- Conceptual skills: big and small concept, left & right concept, colour concept, body parts concepts, yes and no concept
Why do you need speech therapy?
There are several speech and language disorders that can be treated with speech therapy.
- Articulation disorders: An articulation disorder is the inability to properly form certain word sounds. A child with this speech disorder may drop, swap, distort, or add word sounds. An example of distorting a word would be saying “thith” instead of “this”.
- Fluency disorders: A fluency disorder affects the flow, speed, and rhythm of speech. Stuttering and cluttering are fluency disorders. A person with stuttering has trouble getting out a sound and may have speech that is blocked or interrupted, or may repeat part of all of a word. A person with cluttering often speaks very fast and merges words together.
- Receptive disorders: A person with receptive language disorder has trouble understanding and processing what others say. This can cause you to seem uninterested when someone is speaking, have trouble following directions, or have a limited vocabulary. Other language disorders, autism, hearing loss, and a head injury can lead to a receptive language disorder.
- Expressive disorders: Expressive language disorder is difficulty conveying or expressing information. If you have an expressive disorder, you may have trouble forming accurate sentences, such as using incorrect verb tense. It’s associated with developmental impairments, such as Down syndrome and hearing loss. It can also result from head trauma or a medical condition.
What happens during speech therapy?
For your child, speech therapy may take place in a classroom or small group, or one-on-one, depending on the speech disorder. Speech therapy exercises and activities vary depending on your child’s disorder, age, and needs. During speech therapy for children, the SLP may:
- interact through talking and playing, and using books, pictures other objects as part of language intervention to help stimulate language development
- model correct sounds and syllables for a child during age-appropriate play to teach the child how to make certain sounds
- Provide strategies and homework for the child and parent or caregiver on how to do speech therapy at home.