What is perhaps more unnerving about Speech Therapy as an option for speech development is, it is almost never among the first options people will think of. This is where getting to know more about the practice can be beneficial.
What is speech therapy?Speech therapy is a treatment that deals with problems in speech that an individual may have. In most but not all cases, this individual is usually a toddler. Speech therapy is actually a subset of speech pathology which as a whole does not only target speech, but rather any language and communication problems that people may have. These may be problems from birth or they may stem from accidents and in-humane social environments.
What does speech therapy aim to achieve?The aim of speech therapy is that of speech pathology as a whole, the development or re-attainment of effective communication skills. Due to the uniqueness of those afflicted with language development problems or acquired language deficiencies , the level of language development/recovery will depend on the magnitude of the problem. This is especially so for those with acquired deficiencies, as they may not be able to reacquire their former level of speech function.
Types of speech problemsSpeech problems are usually categorized into three sets. Articulation disorders, Voice/Resonance disorders and Fluency Disorders. As you may expect, in speech pathology each of these is treated with different therapeutic techniques.
Articulation disorders usually stem from the secondary physical features involved in speech. This could be one or a combination of the following; palate(hard or soft), tongue, teeth, jaws, cheeks or lips. This leads to a problem of pronouncing words or syllables correctly. As a result the victim is communicating with have a hard time understanding what they are trying to say.
Voice/Resonance disorders come stem from the primary physical features involved in speech. These could be the larynx and voice box. In this case the speech problems may be manifested more profoundly since they come from the organs that generate raw sound. To the person the afflicted is trying to communicate with, their speech may sound anything from nasally, muffled, weak or too loud, breaking/intermittent or something else that would be called normal.
Fluency disorders are not normally due to any physical features. They tend to manifest themselves as talking too fast causing words to clutter. Or, too slow where the articulation of words or word sequences is filled with stoppages, fillers, repetitions or unnecessary prolongation.
How is speech therapy given?On a professional level, the therapy is given by a Speech and Language Pathologist (SPL). These many informally be referred to as Speech Therapists. They are professionals with trainning in human communication and development disorders.
On a less professional level, anyone can give speech therapy under the guidance of an SPL. In this case the professional establishes the working therapeutic plan, gives master lessons and then delegates carefully selected duties(usually watchful duties) to an individual. These are the duties that parents and loved ones can do so as to provide a sustained therapy during the everyday life of that undergoing the treatment.