Although often considered treatment for childhood speech and language issues, speech therapy is sometimes recommended for adults. It is a part of recovery programs for many illnesses, and may be used to help manage conditions that affect speech, language, eating or swallowing. When choosing an adult speech therapy program, a variety of different settings and treatment options exist depending on diagnosis.
Adult speech therapy helps people gain greater control over speaking and language skills. For many adults, a medical issue such as stroke, or onset of motor-skill affecting conditions like Parkinson's Disease or Multiple Sclerosis. Brain injury and accidents that cause damage to the throat, jaw, or facial structure can also impair speaking ability. Other people may require speech therapy due to mental difficulties which affect comprehension of language or the ability to speak intelligibly.
Finding a speech therapist is often done through recommendations from a primary care doctor. After an injury, accident, or stroke, a doctor may suggest adult speech therapy to help language and speaking skills improve or to help a patient better cope with the language disabilities caused by his or her condition. A speech therapist can give a more focused diagnosis of language-based issues, and be able to create a personalized program to improve skills.
Diagnosis of a speech or language disability is done through a variety of tests, both mental and physical. If the problem is not physical in nature, the patient may be assessed for language comprehension and retention skills. Once the specific underlying cause is identified, treatment programs to help the patient can begin.
Treatment done in speech therapy for adults may be done in many different ways, as best fits the need of the patient. Some people receiving adult speech therapy have group classes focusing on comprehension and pronunciation, similar to those taken when learning a foreign language. Depending on the nature of the condition, exercises for muscular improvement and homework may also become a part of the program. Some speech therapists even make house calls, particularly for patients that are bedridden or in hospital treatment.
While adult speech therapy may not be able to cure all speech or language disabilities, it can go a long way to giving adults confidence and focused training. Some patients may see a great improvement and even full recovery of all skills, while others may have to work hard to achieve every bit of increased ability. Struggling to communicate clearly can be greatly frustrating, yet some people may find speech therapy embarrassing or even shameful. A trained speech pathologist should soon be able to put worries to rest, and help to improve the quality of language, and life, for many patients.