What Is Speech Therapy: What Speech Therapists Do

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Speech therapy is an intervention service that focuses on improving a child's speech and abilities to understand and express language, including nonverbal language. Speech therapists, or speech and language pathologists (SLPs), are the professionals who provide these services. Speech therapy includes two components: 

1) coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (to address articulation, fluency, and voice volume regulation); 

2) understanding and expressing language (to address the use of language through written, pictorial, body, and sign forms, and the use of language through alternative communication systems such as social media, computers, and iPads). In addition, the role of SLPs in treating swallowing disorders has broadened to include all aspects of feeding.

Speech Therapy

Techniques Of Speech Therapy

Articulation Therapy

Articulation therapy is unique in that when employing this technique, therapists will focus on helping the patient produce certain sounds and articulate different parts of speech correctly. This type of speech therapy is used to help with many problems that arise as a consequence of injury, illness, or delays.

Language Intervention Therapy

Language intervention therapy is employed to help the patient develop speech abilities. This technique is frequently used with children who are exhibiting speech delays, and in adults who require encouragement to help with their language abilities. This less formal approach to therapy focuses on helping the patient to pronounce words properly.

Oral Motor Therapy

Oral motor therapy consists of exercise routines with the goal of exercising and strengthening the muscles in and around the mouth, which helps focus control of speech. Although this therapy type can help patients with delays, it is more commonly used with patients who have suffered a physical injury or ailment that caused them to be unable to speak properly.

Vital Stim Therapy

When patients suffer from medical conditions such as a stroke, they may develop an inability to swallow, referred to in medical terms as dysphagia. Sufferers of dysphagia may have trouble eating, drinking, and speaking, but VitalStim therapy can work in tandem with other therapies to help patients regain the ability to swallow, and their independence. Using electrical stimulation along the neck along with other exercises, VitalStim can help speed up a patient’s recovery. To learn more about Vital Stim Therapy, click here.

Speech Therapy

LSVT

LSVT, or Lee Silverman Speech Therapy, is a comprehensive treatment used to improve the speech of patients. This therapy addresses many aspects of speech, including volume, articulation, and respiratory ability. LSVT has proven to be effective for more than just increasing speech ability. It has also been shown to assist with swallowing, articulation, and improved facial expression. This therapy is unique, in that it works to strengthen the laryngeal muscles to improve vocal control. To learn more about LSVT, click here.

Speech therapy tips for parents to use at home

If you're concerned about language issues with your child the first thing you'll want to do is consult a professional. They can help you identify strategies that will work best for the particular problem and break it down into manageable steps that won't be overwhelming for you or your child.

Practice. If your child has trouble saying a certain sound "f" for example encourage him or her to just make that sound all by itself. Once that comes more easily you can incorporate it into syllables like "fi-fi-fi" or "fa-fa-fa" before moving onto actual words that use it. Repetition is your friend—and it's an opportunity for "gamification." Give tokens for completing a set number of exercises.

Focus on what the child can do instead of overemphasizing what he or she can't do. While it's important to pay attention to improvements in speech remember to praise other small victories like picking up toys being polite or using the bathroom. And don't be tempted to allow bad behavior simply because the child has a speech problem.

Listen! Ask questions and be attentive and patient with the replies. Interrupting and expecting the child to "just spit it out" will create anxiety which can make the problem worse. Let him or her work it out without pressure. On the other hand don't be too focused or the child may become uncomfortable. Try to keep the conversation natural and don't add pressure by demanding perfection.

Use straws. Drinking liquids through them or blowing air out of them will help your child develop the muscular strength in the mouth that's important for clear speech. Make it into a game—get a ping-pong ball and see if he or she can blow it through a goal you set up or keep the ball at the end of the straw by sucking up air through it.

Read. Reading a favorite book to your child and then having them read it back to you can provide excellent reinforcement. Even if the child is too young to be able to read words having them explain what they see in the book and remembering the context from hearing it can strengthen speech and confidence.

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