Speech therapy is an intervention method that focuses on helping children with impaired speech or swallowing capabilities. Speech therapists, commonly known as speech-language pathologists (SLPs), are highly educated, trained, and experienced professionals that can provide such services to children and adults. They often work as a team to help patients overcome a wide range of difficulties.
Children or adults that have difficulties communicating may also suffer from mental health and behavioral issues, suffer from poor confidence levels, and find social interactions hard. Speech therapists can help people with these issues as well. Here’s how speech therapy can help with these challenges:
1. Better Articulation from Speech Therapy
For people affected by impaired speech, articulation is important. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) defines articulation disorder as the “atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with intelligibility.”
As people learn to articulate words properly, they improve their communication skills and confidence. A very common example of this is when children are unable to make the “R” sound. Some grow up with this problem because of the lack of articulatory exercises.
There are several ways in which SLPs can help people articulate words better, one example being that of a ‘race to 100 games’. This game includes dice and a board. The child rolls the dice, and when it lands on a specific sound, the child says it out loud.
2. Improve Swallowing with Speech Therapy
People with speech disorders are often ailed by difficulties swallowing as well. Also known as dysphagia, swallowing disorders can be a result of a stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or other neurological diseases.
An SLP utilizes a blend of techniques and exercises to improve the oral intake process and reduce the risk of aspiration. These techniques increase the control a person has over their swallowing capability. Some of these techniques include:
- Head positioning technique
- Swallow maneuvers
- Biting techniques
- Modification of food and liquids taken
- Other techniques can help improve the range of motion (ROM), coordination and strengthening of the jaw, lips, cheek, and tongue muscles.
3. How Speech Therapy Reduces Stuttering
Stuttering can cause problems in speaking fluently. A speech therapist can help affected patients greatly improve their stuttering to a point where it becomes non-existent!
According to The Stuttering Foundation, over 70 million people all around the world are affected by stuttering. An SLP can help reduce stuttering by modifying the way a person speaks and by giving them exercises to strengthen the tongue.
SLPs will advise the patients to
- Take deep breaths before the encounter and pace their breaths while talking
- Talk slowly
- Avoid certain words. These words include words containing any sounds that might trigger the person’s stutter
- Exercise the trigger words when alone to increase fluency of those words
- Find a rhythm while talking
- Patients should try to visualize their words. If they are going to speak publicly, rehearsing the performance can have a huge difference
- Use gestures and pacing to calm the nerves, and in turn, the tongue.
4. More Understandable Accent
Speech therapy isn’t only for those who wish to overcome a speaking disorder. It can also help people who might wish to lose or gain an accent. Actors are a prime example of when people want to change accents through speech therapy. SLPs can help people overcome their accents by first learning the way they currently sound. They will focus on several sounds and determine whether the person can be trained to get the new accent or not.
The first step in learning a new accent is to understand the speech rhythm – where to emphasize more and less. Keep in mind that insurance will not pay for an SLP to change an accent since it is not considered a speech disorder.
5. Increased Confidence & Reduced Anxiety
Unfortunately, people who can’t speak well often suffer from anxiety and decreased confidence levels. They fear being ridiculed by peers.
An SLP can help decrease that anxiety by giving patients confidence in their speech naturally. When you speak with flair and without any faults, it is only natural that your self-esteem rises, allowing you to be more independent and lead a better quality of life.
With the help of a good speech therapist, you can easily initiate communication without prompts from others and know the appropriate time and place to communicate. This will boost your confidence to exchange ideas more effectively and reduce your anxiety so that you can enjoy communicating and interacting with peers.
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