What Is Speech Therapy? Everything You Need To Know
You might have heard the term “Speech Therapy” and assumed it has something to do with speech challenges. Yes, you are partially correct! However, in this article, we will examine the topic as a whole so that you attain a clear understanding of the term. So, let’s start at the base, shall we?
What Is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is a treatment method that involves the assessment, treatment and improvement of speech and language disorders and other communication issues. Not anyone can perform speech therapy sessions but someone with adequate qualifications. Only speech-language pathologists (SLPs), often referred to as speech therapists, can diagnose and treat speech-related problems.
Speech therapy sessions contain language interaction activities to improve speech and language skills such as voice and sound production, comprehension, fluency, clarity and expression. Children and adults have distant speech therapies as their requirements and treatment techniques are different from each other.
Who Needs Speech Therapy?
The next inevitable question to answer is who is the required set of people who needs speech therapy sessions. Children with speech disorders and adults with speech impairments caused by stroke or brain injury, or other illnesses are the ones in need of speech therapy.
The best speech therapist in UAE deals with different childhood speech disorders. Children with speech and language disorders have difficulty expressing their feelings and thoughts, comprehending messages etc.
Here are some of the speech and language disorders commonly seen in children which require special attention and treatment:
- Apraxia: Apraxia is a speech disorder that occurs due to some damage to the nerve endings that connect the brain to the muscles that produce speech. As a result, they know what they want to say but have trouble forming words. They also face difficulty reading, writing, swallowing, or other motor skills.
- Aphasia: Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that affects the ability to speak and understand others, and read and write languages. This condition occurs when the brain’s processing areas are damaged due to stroke injury or tumours or other brain disorders.
- Articulation disorders: An articulation disorder is related to the ability to produce certain word sounds. A child with an articulation disorder may often drop, swap, distort or add word sounds that will lose the real sense or meaning of the word or produce nonsensical words. For example, a child would say “thith” instead of “this”, “th” sound used in the place of the “s” sound.
- Fluency disorders: A fluency disorder affects flow, speed, and rhythm of speech while speaking. Stuttering/stammering and cluttering are common fluency disorders. Stuttering occurs when a person has trouble getting out a sound or repeats a sound of the word, which will block or interrupt the flow of speech. On the other hand, a person with cluttering often speaks very fast, so they tend to merge words together.
- Receptive disorders. This language disorder is associated with receiving input that has trouble understanding and processing what others say. It occurs due to autism or hearing loss or a head injury. As a result, people with the receptive disorder will have only a limited vocabulary, have difficulty following directions, and might seem uninterested in conversations. Auditory Processing Disorder is one of the major receptive disorders.
- Expressive disorders: Difficulty in conveying or expressing information comes under expressive disorders. A person with expressive disorders has trouble forming accurate sentences. Expressive disorders are often associated with developmental impairments, such as Down syndrome and hearing loss, head trauma or any other medical condition.
- Cognitive-communication disorders: Difficulties in communication that have been raised because of an injury in the area of the brain that controls the ability to think is referred to as cognitive-communication disorder. This disorder causes problems with listening, speaking, memory, and problem-solving. Abnormal brain development, certain neurological conditions, a brain injury, or stroke can also be the cause of this disorder.
What happens during speech therapy?
Speech therapy sessions always begin with the diagnostic stage. An expert speech therapist will conduct a few assessment tests and identify the type of communication disorder. Once the speech disorder is accurately found, the speech therapist will formulate the right combination of speech therapy techniques that can deliver the right results.
Depending on the individualised treatment plan, speech therapy sessions might take place in a classroom or small group, or in one-on-one sessions. When considering speech therapy for children, skill-developing exercises, games and activities may vary depending on the speech disorder, age and individual needs of every child. During speech therapy, the SLP may:
- Interact with the children through talking or playing, using books, pictures and other objects.
- Model correct sounds and syllables during exercises and activities to teach the children how to produce certain sounds.
- Provide tips, strategies and homework to the child and parent or caregiver on how to enunciate speech therapy in their respective homes.
Proper language intervention from experts can stimulate correct language development.
What are the benefits of speech therapy?
Recent studies have shown that speech therapy is an effective way to help children and adults improve their communication skills. More than 700 children with speech or language problems have shown positive results with speech therapy interventions.
Speech therapy offers several benefits, including:
- Sound language skills so that children can understand and be understood by others
- Improved self-esteem.
- Increased independence.
- Ability to comprehend and express ideas, thoughts and feelings.
- Acquiring school-ready skills
- Enhanced vocal quality, fluency and clarity of speech
- Better swallowing function.
- Improved quality of life.
- Development of practical community skills
How long do you need speech therapy?
One cannot accurately predict the exact duration of speech therapy. The amount of time may vary for each individual depending on many factors such as:
- The age
- Type and severity of the speech disorder
- Frequency of therapy sessions
- Underlying medical condition
Some kinds of speech disorders appear in childhood and rectify along with age maturation, while there are other types that continue into adulthood and require long-term therapy. Language disorders that are majorly caused by a stroke or other medical condition may improve as the medical condition improves.
Whatever be the case, if you notice that your child is having difficulty with words, sounds and speech, make an appointment with the best speech therapist in Sharjah and start speech therapy before it’s too late.