If your condition is making it harder to communicate, you may need the help of a speech therapist.
Speech therapists are experts in assessing and treating communication and swallowing disorders.
Speech therapy provides comprehensive evaluation, education and treatment of patients with speech, language, cognitive, voice and swallowing impairments.
How we put sounds together to form words and communicate what we’re thinking with others is a complex task. Our therapists can help you tackle whatever is making speech difficult, whether it’s from muscle weakness, a hearing impairment, a stroke or a brain injury.
Language and literacy
Language skills refer to our ability to understand what we hear, read and write, as well as our ability to use words to communicate. Literacy is defined by how well we can read and write as forms of communication. Problems with language and literacy can be caused by developmental delays or hearing issues in children, or by illness or injury in adults. Speech therapists can help improve language and literacy skills through a number of ways, including how to decode words, build vocabulary and understand inferences.
Swallowing and feeding
Problems with feeding in infants and eating in children and adults can lead to issues with weight and nutrition. Difficulty swallowing can lead to increased risk of choking and aspiration pneumonia. Speech therapists have specialized training and competency to evaluate and manage swallowing issues.
Having a voice that works when you need it is important to being able to communicate with confidence. Common voice problems may include sounding hoarse, experiencing weakness or vocal fatigue, or feeling pain with talking or singing. Speech therapists can help with these problems by teaching you how to take care of your voice and by teaching you how to use your voice more skillfully so that you get more sound for less work.
Stuttering interrupts the flow of speech with repetitive sounds or long pauses while talking. Stuttering can occur in children and adults. Speech therapists can help improve stuttering by working with you to slow down speech, using cognitive therapy to promote ways of thinking that might reduce stuttering or suggesting electronic devices that can help enhance fluency.
Vocal cord dysfunction/chronic cough
Vocal cord dysfunction, or VCD, happens when your vocal cords close when they should open, resulting in difficulty breathing. VCD is different from asthma in that the treatment isn’t medication but rather learning to use breathing strategies taught by your speech therapist. Common triggers of VCD include exercise, stress, acid reflux, extreme temperature changes, smoke or strong odors. Speech therapists can help determine if your breathing difficulty is related to VCD and provide you with breathing strategies. Chronic cough is another problem that can be helped through behavioral management strategies taught by speech therapists.
This is how well our mind works as we try to communicate, including our ability to remember, pay attention and solve problems. Issues with cognitive communication generally have an underlying cause, such as damage to the brain following a stroke. Speech therapists can help through techniques and exercises which aim to improve attention, memory and practice completing specific tasks.
Social communication is how well we understand social norms when communicating, such as how not to interrupt, how to read facial expressions and body language and the physical space allowed between yourself and the person you’re talking to. Speech therapy can help you learn social cues needed to communicate effectively and work through exercises, such as role-play conversations.
When you need to use a different method of communicating, such as through the use of a tablet or computer, speech therapy can help decide if technology may help improve communication and what device may work best.
Common reasons for speech therapy:
- Swallowing disorders
- Brain injury
- Vocal strain
- Pediatric Therapy