Benefits & Techniques of Speech Therapy for Childs & Adults
Communication is the essence of human life, and speech is the expression of our thoughts through sounds. However, there are cases when a person is not able to communicate using spoken words, for such people, speech therapy is necessary. A person affected by this condition is called a speech disorder.
In this article, Dr Anish Gupta, a leading ENT specialist, explains why and how important speech therapy can help people suffering from speech disorders or communication disorders.
What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is a treatment method that can help focus on improving a child’s ability to speak and express language, which also includes non-verbal language. There are various speech therapists or speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who are constantly working towards helping children with speech, language or swallowing disorders.
Speech Therapy is a corrective service for helping treat physical and cognitive defects, resulting in difficulty communicating verbally. Speech therapy works on both language and speech.
Depending on the severity of the disorder, personalised treatment plans are made, which range from practising several mouth exercises and using audio-visual aids.
Who Needs Speech therapy?
Every child takes his or her own time to develop or learn speech and language skills, and in children, every step and every effort they put in trying to speak is like touching a milestone for the parents.
But, if you notice some of the following changes in your child, then it might be time for you to take your child for speech therapy or to a speech-language pathologist (SLPs).
1. Focus on the Number of Words and Sounds
The number of words and sounds that a child articulate should be noted. For example:- if a child uses less than 50 words by the age of 2, then visiting a speech therapist might help the case, and if your child is using only a few sounds to pronounce most of the words, then proper speech therapy should be performed.
2. Understanding and Grasping Power
If by the age of 2, the child is not able to understand or speak at least 250-300 words, it clearly indicates that your child is having difficulty in understanding, making, and speaking simple sentences. For example:- bring a boat to the coast, if a child is not able to articulate the sentence well, it may be time to see a therapist.
3. Social Interaction
If your child is infrequently talking and has trouble making simple conversations with other children or teachers, then it indicates they need assistance in making the right sentences.
4. Stuttering and Unclear Speech
If the child is stuttering while speaking and the flow of speech is disrupted, it indicates a certain type of communication disorder. For example:- if a 2-3 year old is not able to communicate at an acceptable volume and combine several words, then speech therapy techniques should be used to help the child overcome this speech disorder.
If, as a parent, you are concerned about any of the issues mentioned above, then it is time to consult a specialist who can help your child to improve and excel in their speech and language skills.
5. How Does It Work?
An authorised Speech-language Pathologist will begin by evaluating the individual and further identify the type of speech disorder and how it can be treated. Following are the speech therapies for children and adults.
Speech Therapy for Children
The SLP will be using some therapeutic exercises and several activities that may help the child to overcome speech difficulties.
1. Articulating activities:
The speech therapist will give the individual personalized treatment and help the child slowly pronounce each word by demonstrating and making specific sounds during playtime or during fun activities.
2. Chewing and swallowing therapies:
An SLP works closely with the child and helps in feeding and swallowing issues. The SLP can use activities that involve orally communicating, which can help strengthen the mouth muscles. Feeding and swallowing disorders can be detected using two methods:- Modified barium swallow study and endoscopic assessment.
3. Language activities
In language activities, an SLP gets involved by talking to the child while using visual methods like pictures, books, and objects that can help stimulate the development of the language. To help the kid improve his or her language abilities, the SLP may show proper pronunciation and use repetition exercises.
4. Facial exercises:
Facial exercises may help strengthen the muscles around the mouth. In addition, the SLP may employ a variety of tongue, jaw, and lip movement exercises that may help to improve speech and communication.
An SLP after the session will give the child some strategies and homework to help the child to practise and exercise some particular activities at home within the family.
Speech Therapy for Adults
A speech therapist will use different techniques to improve an adult’s speech. These techniques will differ from that of a child.
1. Mouth exercises
Mouth exercises or facial exercises will help strengthen the oral muscles, which will help improve communication and build up the adult’s confidence level.
2. Breathing exercises
A speech therapist or SLP may ask an adult to do a few breathing exercises that can assist in solving the issues.
3. Social interaction:
The speech therapist may use memory activities, conversation exercises, problem-solving methods to help improve communication.
4. Swallowing exercises:
Medical concerns like Parkinson’s, Mouth cancer, sudden stroke may lead to swallowing and speech difficulties. An SLP- Speech-language pathologist may use several exercises to help a person with these conditions. Exercises like:- Consonant & Vowel Pairing Repetition, Sentence Production, Phonological Processing, tongue movements, etc.
Conditions that require Speech Therapy
1. Stuttering and fluency disorder
Shuttering is a type of speech disorder that includes blocks characterised by long pauses, stretching out of sound while speaking, and repetition of a particular sound. Stuttering can happen due to tension, excitement, or anxiety, which can also make it worse.
Excessive eye blinking or jaw tightness are examples of secondary bodily habits. In addition, a stutterer frequently repeats or extends words, syllables, or sentences.
Dysarthria is a brain injury-related speech disorder. It occurs when the lip, mouth, jaws, and tongue muscles are too weak to function normally, mostly due to brain damage.
Aphasia is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, express, and understand the language properly. Aphasia is a condition that can be treated but cannot be cured. It can occur suddenly due to a stroke, brain injury, or head injury.
Tips and Tricks to Improve Speech
1- Try to communicate more with your child by giving your child a space to express his thoughts well into words.
2- Teach well to listen better using the telephone method in which your child listens to you and try to communicate back or using whisper method in which one person wipers to the other and the goal, in the end, is to pronounce the sentence that was whispered.
3- Reading out loud to the child, helps the child to understand the words and sentences better
4- Using audio-visual aids to make the child understand better and help the child increase their level of grasping and imagination and does impact their concentration level.
5- The best way to learn is through fun. A child can learn best when the whole activity is fun and interactive.
Speech is one of the most important parts of our lives. We need speech to help communicate well, to socialise in society. However, any individual (a child or an adult) affected with a speech disorder loses their ability to express and understand language and communicate, and reading and writing become a difficult task. Dr. Anish Gupta, our ENT specialist, can help treat a broad range of speech and language delays and disorders in both children and adults. Early intervention of speech disorder can help improve confidence, communication level and help master over language.
Q. What are some speech therapy techniques?
Speech techniques can help improve language skills and the ability to communicate better. Some common speech techniques are articulation therapy, oral motor therapy, vital stim therapy and language intervention therapy.
Q. How can I help my child speak clearly?
There is a certain limit to what a parent can do to help improve a child’s speech. There are several at-home techniques that can help develop the ability to speak and communicate better. Talk more or be a bit more talkative, use visual aids, focus on the sound and the repetitive words they rely on, get close to your child and listen to what they are trying to communicate so as to correct them and improve them.
Q. What are the three basic types of speech impairments?
Apraxia of Speech (AOS), Stuttering, stammering, dysarthria and lisping are some of the basic types of speech impairments that a Speech-language pathologist can help treat and improve communication skills.
Q. How is speech apraxia diagnosed?
Your speech therapist will be the best person to connect with. A therapist will evaluate your child’s condition by assessing the symptoms and signs and examine a child’s way of producing sounds, formation of sentences and phrases.