Speech Therapy is a branch of healthcare that aims to help people with speech and language problems to communicate more clearly. Also known as speech-language therapy or speech-language pathology, focuses on the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders. Speech therapists, or speech-language pathologists (SLPs), work with individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly, who may have difficulties with speech, language, voice, fluency, and/or swallowing.
There are several types of speech therapy, each developed to treat specific problems. These include:
- Articulation Therapy: focusing on teaching how to produce speech sounds correctly
- Fluency Therapy: employed to treat fluency disorders to help patients speak more fluently
- Language Therapy: focuses on the use of language to help speech become more clear, concise and fluent
- Auditory Verbal Therapy: an assistive therapy designed to aid children with hearing aids and cochlear implants
- Voice Therapy: a phonological treatment with the goal of improving the tone of the voice
- Speech-Language Therapy: used to help patients with autism improve verbal communication issues
- Oral Motor Therapy: uses exercises to improve speech clarity when not as a result of speech disorder, e.g., excess saliva collection
- Oral Placement Therapy: a type of oral motor therapy designed to improve specific movements required for speech and feeding. Is often used for patients with Down Syndrome.
Types of Speech Therapy Treatments
Speech Therapy Treatments
Articulation therapy aims to help those who have trouble producing the sounds required to speak. This differs from phonological therapies, which teaches the pronunciation rules of our vocabulary; instead AT helps patients articulate speech sounds more clearly.
Articulation therapy includes treatments and exercises to improve specific factors of speech including:
- Isolation: Focus on a specific, single sound
- Syllables: Focus on the sound used to create syllables
- Words: Focus on the sounds used to create words, these will occur at the start, middle, or end, and may present vary levels of difficulty for the patient
- Phrases: Focus on the sounds in short phrases
- Sentences: Focus on the sounds used to create sentences
- Stories: Develop and combine these sounds into full stories with accurate pronunciation
- Generalization: Focus on creating conversation, to the point where accurate production is spontaneous and the patient no longer needs to think about it.
Articulation Therapy can be effective at any age, and is typically employed when the individual shows signs of falling behind.
Speech-language therapy is a type of speech treatment that addresses verbal communication issues often associated with autism.
Speech-related problems can vary greatly between individuals on the spectrum. Some may be unable to speak whereas other may enjoy speaking but have trouble holding a conversation or understanding social, verbal and non-verbal cues.
Speech-language therapy aims to help patients communicate better, no matter whether the have difficulty speaking or utilizing language clearly and concisely.
Speech-language therapy can be effective for individuals of any age experiencing difficulty with communication, especially as a result of autism.
Language therapy aims to address problems with language that affect an individual’s ability to communicate clearly. Through the use of exercises, repetition and games, therapists can improve language building skills so the patient may communication more freely.
Language therapy can be effective for individuals of any ages, but can be especially helpful for young children with learning difficulties.
Also known as fluency shaping or fluency enhancement, fluency therapies are utilized to help patient’s speech more clearly and fluently.
The therapy uses speech strategies, which can be practiced at home and in social situations, to help improve the connection between words so their speech may flow more easily.
Fluency Therapy is typically prescribed to patients with speech problems such a stutter, and can be effective for people of any age.
Another type of therapy often prescribed to help people with autism is known as Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC). This treatment utilizes pictures and technology to improve speech and language skills.
AAC treatments may include:
- Picture exchange communication system (PECS)
- Games and exercises on an iPad
- Sign language exercises
- Speech output devices (Dynavox)
AAC is said to most effective in newborns and young children around the age of 16 months.
Many speech therapists claim this treatment is regularly utilized incorrectly. Instead of being employed as a traditional form of speech therapy designed to help those with speech disorders, some experts in fact suggest it should only be used to treat conditions that cause speech problems, and not speech impediments themselves.
That is in large part due to the exercises training the muscles the related with speech and not the voice box that directly produces speech. Nevertheless, when used in the correct setting, Oral Motor Therapy can help reduce problems such as excess saliva collection, as well as problems with speaking and feeding as a result of weak mouth and/or jaw muscles.
Oral Placement Therapy is a form of Oral Motor Therapy utilizes auditory and visual stimulation, together with tactile stimulation, to achieve the same goals as OMT, but for patients with autism and Down Syndrome.
Is a type of phonation therapy that aims to reduce problems with the creation of vocal sounds, by training the voice box to produce these sounds correctly.
Voice therapy can be administered to patients of any age, and is typically done so after repeated or prolonged periods with an unusually horse or rash tone to the voice.