With speech-language pathologists’ aid and speech therapy, patients can see significant improvement in their communication skills.
In this blog, we will discuss:
- What is done in speech therapy?
- What age should you start speech therapy?
- What are the different therapy techniques for speech?
- How quickly does speech therapy work?
What Is Done In Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy has three primary goals:
- Improve pronunciation
- Strengthen speech muscles
- Correctly alter speech and speech patterns
This helps patients better express their thoughts and understand others as well.
Speech-language pathologists will work directly with patients to conduct exercise or play that encourages natural and correct speech. This can include word games, reading out loud, practicing facial movements/expressions, and tongue exercises. Speech therapy not only improves communication but quality of life as well!
What Kind Of Disorders Can Be Treated By Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy focuses on treating four central communication disorders which impact daily verbal skills. These disorders include:
- Language disorders. Language disorders impact general social communication, making it difficult to form sentences, name objects, understand speech, and communicate.
- Speech disorders. Also included in this category are fluency and articulation disorders- as a person will have difficulty making sounds to communicate back. This can make it harder to interact with the surrounding world.
- Voice disorders (such as dysphonia). Most commonly caused by a cleft palate or depression, these types of conditions can create a problem in tone, pitch, and volume level control. While it doesn’t usually impede verbal skills, it can impact other aspects of communication.
- Cognitive-Communication Disorders. This disorder is caused by a traumatic brain injury that impacts one’s ability to think. It can lead to a lack of social awareness, memory issues, and difficulty changing topics.
Most of these disorders are caused by developmental delays– where learning, social, physical, and mental milestones are not met on a standard timeline. While more specific disorders can also require speech therapy, these are the most general groups.
What Age Should You Start Speech Therapy?
You can successfully begin speech therapy at any age, but be conscious of starting sooner than later. Speech-language disorders typically present themselves around 18 months old, when your child isn’t actively meeting speech milestones or is still struggling to speak.
When you notice these delays, contact your child’s primary care provider to solidify your next steps. Speech therapy can still be started at any age in adolescence or adulthood, but success rates are higher if therapy is started in early childhood.
What Are The Different Therapy Techniques For Speech?
There are several effective techniques used for speech-language therapy. As most of these strategies focus on speaking to/with your child, they can also be conducted at home!
Practices you’ll commonly see used in speech-language pathology are:
- Parallel talk- describing what your child is doing, hearing, or seeing (ex. “You are playing with your new toy!”)
- Following your child’s lead
- Modeling words/sentences
- Asking open-ended questions
- Using silly words and sentences
- Breathing and swallowing exercises
- Positive Reinforcement
- Sign language can help your child continue communicating even when verbal expression is challenging.
More challenging and extensive techniques will be used when directly working with speech-language pathologists (SLPs). By making communication fun and engaging, your child can see exponential growth!
How Quickly Does Speech Therapy Work?
When working alongside a speech-language pathologist (SLP), speech therapy can create a significant difference anywhere from a few days to a few years.
On average, it takes approximately 14 days for speech therapy to begin working. While this doesn’t mean complete speech or language accuracy, spoken speech typically becomes more cohesive and understandable.
It’s been studied that almost 70% of preschool-aged children who participated in speech therapy saw significant improvement in their communication skills.
How Often Should Someone Go To Speech Therapy?
It’s recommended that someone goes to speech therapy multiple times a week until there’s a notable improvement. Each session will last about 30 minutes to an hour and should only be conducted through a certified speech therapist. These therapists are recognized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) with a certificate of clinical competency.
Depending on the severity of speech or language needs, this therapy can be temporary or ongoing. Talk with your SLP to note how long your treatment will be needed.