Speech therapy is not a thing. There are different types of speech therapy, each involving approaches and techniques specific to the problem at hand. It could be related to speech itself – for example, therapy for people who stutter – or it could be related to memory swallowing problems, and more.
A speech therapist (speech therapist), often simply referred to as a speech therapist, will perform assessments to determine which type(s) of speech therapy is best for you.
This article reviews the different types of speech therapy and the various disorders each can be used to treat.
Types of speech therapy used by speech therapists
A speech therapist can use different types of speech therapy to help people with issues related to:
- Fluency (for example, stuttering and clutter)
- Speech (eg, articulation)
- Language (e.g. ability; comprehension of spoken and written language)
- Cognition (eg, attention, memory, ability to solve problems)
- Voice (e.g. vocal tone characteristics)
- Swallowing (eg, stroke, congenital disorders)
In addition to different speech therapy techniques, speech therapists can also provide auditory habilitation and auditory rehabilitation for people with hearing problems or disorders.
Some speech-language pathologists specialize in other services, including professional voice development, accent or dialect modification, transgender voice therapy, corporate communication modification, and voice hygiene.
Speech therapy for late speakers
A common method of speech therapy is used to help children who have reached the expected age for speech development but have not started speaking.
If your baby or toddler should already be talking but isn’t, they may be referred to a speech therapist. The therapist will likely try different things to encourage your child to talk, including playing with him. Sometimes holding back a favorite toy until a child asks motivates young children to talk, but it depends on the circumstances.
For some children, other types of communication, such as sign language or picture cards, can be introduced. Speech-language pathologists can also refer your child for further evaluation, such as hearing tests if needed.
Speech therapy for children with apraxia
Some speech therapy techniques are helpful for children with apraxia.
Children with apraxia have difficulty pronouncing certain syllables or making certain sounds. Your child knows what he wants to say, but it doesn’t seem to be going well. Speech-language pathologists are qualified to assess children’s apraxia using several tests, including:
- Oromotor assessment to check for muscle weakness in the jaw, lips, or tongue
- Assessment of the melody of speech that the therapist listens to to see if they can appropriately stress certain syllables and use pitch and pauses at the appropriate place in a sentence
- Speech sound assessment further determines how well the child can pronounce sounds, including vowels, consonants, and combinations of sounds. This includes determining the ability of others to understand the child’s conversational speech
If your child is diagnosed with apraxia, he will likely need one-on-one speech therapy several times a week. This therapy will likely consist of intensive practice of their speech. The therapist will try to help your child understand auditory feedback as well as visual or tactile cues.
One way a therapist might do this is to have your child look at themselves in a mirror while talking, or record them talking and then play them back. Lots of kids enjoy this.
Since successful treatment of apraxia requires a lot of time and commitment, your therapist may assign you tasks to practice with your child at home.
Speech therapy for stuttering
Speech therapy techniques can be applied to help treat stuttering.
Stuttering is a problem that usually develops during childhood, but can also develop in adulthood. Stuttering is generally considered a type of behavior problem. Speech therapists will try to teach your child who stutters behavior modification techniques which, in turn, can help control their stuttering.
A common method that can be used with your child is to teach him to control the pace of speech, as speaking too quickly can make stuttering worse in some people. Practicing speaking in a slower, more fluid way can be helpful. It may also be helpful to monitor breathing.
Even after treatment, people who stutter may need follow-up sessions with their speech therapist to prevent the problem from recurring.
Speech therapy for aphasia
Some speech therapy methods help people with aphasia. Speech therapy assessments can also help determine if someone has the condition.
Aphasia is a condition that causes difficulty in speaking as a result of some kind of brain damage. The condition may also consist of difficulty listening, reading, and writing. Aphasia occurs in many adults after a stroke.
Speech-language pathologists play a crucial role in diagnosing aphasia by assessing an individual’s ability to understand others, speak, and even swallow. A speech therapist can do a number of things to help a person with aphasia, including:
- Exercises to improve specific language skills
- Group therapy to improve conversation skills
- Gestures and writing to increase their communication skills
Speech therapy for difficulty swallowing
Speech therapy techniques can also be used to help people who are unable to swallow while eating or drinking.
Your child may have difficulty swallowing for a variety of reasons. A speech therapist can help your child who has difficulty swallowing by helping them do exercises to strengthen their mouth, increase tongue movement and improve chewing.
A speech therapist can also make recommendations on food consistency. For infants, a speech therapist can help coordinate their suck-swallow-breath pattern. As mentioned earlier, these are just a few of the things a speech therapist might do. There are many other conditions and methods used to assess people in need.
There are different types of speech therapy that can be used to treat various disorders affecting speech, hearing, and swallowing. Children and adults with speech delays, apraxia, swallowing problems, and certain medical conditions can benefit from working with a speech-language pathologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a speech therapist do?
A speech therapist assesses, diagnoses and treats speech and communication problems, as well as swallowing disorders. They provide a variety of services, from teaching articulation and speech clarity to helping strengthen the muscles used for speaking and swallowing.
What are the four types of joint disorders?
The four types of articulation disorders are substitution, omission, distortion, and addition. Speech therapists use the acronym SODA to remember this.