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What is Speech Therapy?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Speech therapy is a form of therapy which is designed to address language and speech disorders. It is typically provided by a speech therapist, who may work with a psychologist, physiotherapist, or psychiatrist, depending on the patient's condition. Speech therapists can address speech and language issues as they occur, and they may also provide preventative care which is designed to stop such disorders before they start.

Language disorders involve an inability to utilize language. People with language disorders may have psychological issues like stuttering, or they may have cognitive impairments which make it difficult for them to connect critical features of spoken language. Speech therapy for language disorders starts with determining the extent of the disorder, exploring the underlying cause, and then addressing the cause with the patient, using a variety of exercises to help the patient overcome the disorder.

People recovering from strokes and brain injuries may also experience language disorders as a result of cognitive impairments. For these patients, speech therapy can help the patient recover his or her former language faculties, or develop a new method of communication if it is impossible for the patient to fully recover. Speech therapists can also address emotional discomfort caused by slurred speech or difficulty speaking after a stroke, helping patients feel more confident.

Speech disorders involve physical obstacles to speech which create speech impediments or difficulty speaking, such as disorders of the vocal cords. Speech therapy for these types of conditions involves an assessment of the patient, which may be assisted by a doctor who can help the speech therapist determine what is causing the problem, followed by the development of a treatment plan to help the patient learn to speak. Speech therapists can also help patients learn to use various tools which can assist with communication.

Speech therapy can also be used to help people overcome thick accents, or in the treatment of transgendered individuals who want to retrain their voices as part of their transition process. Being able to suppress accents can be important for people who are interested in advancing professionally.

Children can sometimes develop speech impediments which will grow worse over time. Early speech therapy can address such impediments before they become severe, preventing the development of problems in the future. Because speech issues can also be the sign of an underlying medical problem, it is important for parents to take their children to a speech therapist if they develop issues with speech or language.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Moldova — On Oct 09, 2010

Cupcake15- I know that speech therapy stuttering is a common impediment but it is also one that people make fun of.

There is a company called Lingua Systems that offers speech therapy supplies that you can use at home. Once you learn the basics, there are articulation books that offer sheets and sheets of various sets of words depending on the problematic sound. This can save you some money with regards to child speech therapy.

By cupcake15 — On Oct 09, 2010

Comfyshoes-I know that speech therapy involves speech therapy exercises at home. When my son was taking speech therapy articulation, he had to repeat a set of words daily for at least 15 minutes.

You would be surprised at the progress that children make by something so simple like this.

Speech therapy treatment is really important because if the children do not receive treatment when they are young, their mind trains them to mispronounce words and when they get older may not want to socialize with other for fear that they will be humiliated.

By comfyshoes — On Oct 09, 2010

SauteePan- Usually kids love going to speech therapy. For example, if the child suffers with the pronunciation of the letter S, the therapist might bring out a toy snake and call her Sara Snake.

She will teach the appropriate tongue placement and offer repetitive phrases like Sara Snake in order to condition the child to use proper tongue placement.

By SauteePan — On Oct 09, 2010

Anon37011- That is a great question that really has to do with anxiety. There are many books written on this subject, but if your condition becomes too much to bear you should seek a therapist that can address your anxiety directly.

Pediatric speech therapy is offered after an initial evaluation is done on the child. Usually a teacher may bring the speech problem to the attention of the parents who officially have the child tested for speech problems.

Often the child will be asked to say certain words to determine the level of faulty speech. A speech therapist will then offer the results to the parents and provide a detailed outline of the speech therapy goals.

Speech therapy articulation might include exercises in blowing to create stronger muscles in the mouth. Usually speech therapy activities are made fun for the child and could use lollipops or pixie sticks in the speech therapy treatment.

By anon37011 — On Jul 16, 2009

how can I get rid of nervousness?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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