Traditionally when we think of speech therapy, we often think of a child learning to “talk”. However, the scope of a Speech and Language Pathologist is one that can extend far beyond children talking. The following is a brief overview of the different ways a Speech-Language Pathologist can help adults with a variety of challenges:
If you or a loved one has ever experienced a stroke, then you know this can been a very scary time. In the hospital, services are readily available, but what happens once you leave? Often there are still areas of deficit that could use further, long term support. A Speech-Language Pathologist can support the following:
Aphasia is a word that not many know, until they have to. Aphasia refers to the loss of language (either production or comprehension) due to damage to specific language areas of our brain. People who suffer from Aphasia often have normal intelligence, but are not able to effectively communicate the way they used to. Depending on the area of the brain where the damage has occurred, a Speech-Language Pathologist can support individuals with Aphasia by helping to rehabilitate language skills and by providing alternative strategies for communication
Apraxia refers to a difficulty coordinating motor movements. The brain is struggling to pass long the message to the muscles to move a certain way. Of course, talking requires a series of intricate and finite muscle movements. If an individual is suffering from apraxia they may be talking, but difficult to understand due to inaccuracy of sound production.
Dysarthria refers to a weakness in muscles. It can be on one or both sides of the body. Dysarthria of the mouth/tongue muscles used for talking can lead to speech that is difficult to understand.
Stuttering is a reality for many adults. While society tends to wrongly associate stuttering with personality traits such as anxiety or shyness, we know that this is not the case. There are many factors that influence the development of a stutter including: family history, gender, age of onset etc. A Speech-Language Pathologist is specifically trained to help adults who stutter regain control of their talking. Working with individuals and their families to provide strategies for fluent speech. Often reaching out for help can be one of the most challenging steps.
Attention teachers: this one is for you! We use our voices all day every day. However, we are not so good at taking care of it. If your job demands you to talk, sing, or yell (ouch) for a living, you may already be experiencing some of the realities of voice fatigue. If you are finding by the end of the day that your voice is cracking, or gone, or, if you are experiences changes in your voice, it might be time to consult with a Speech-Language Pathologist.
There are a variety of challenges that can arise from the development of Parkinson’s disease related to communication. Some of these challenges include:
- Difficulty initiating talking
- Difficulty controlling the pace of talking
- Poor breath support
- Low volume
While Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, a Speech-Language Pathologist can aid an individual in practicing techniques to support communication skills, and maintain skills for as long as possible. There may also be alternative devices, or strategies to help.
Having a hard time eating or swallowing is not a problem to be taken lightly. In a hospital setting, individuals are assessed to ensure it is safe for them to eat various foods by the mouth. However, sometimes, these difficulties go undetected because there was no specific cause (ex. Stroke) but rather, the difficulties develop slowly, over time. A clinic based Speech-Language Pathologist can perform a non-instrumental assessment of swallowing to help identify if further assessment is required. You can also receive support in requesting a referral from your physician, and be given strategies to ensure a safe swallow until a time when the hospital based assessment can occur.
Seeing a loved one experience the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be a heart breaking experience. Early intervention with a Speech-Language Pathologist for an individual with Alzheimer’s/Dementia can help to provide strategies and resources to be used to increase quality of life and quality of interactions with family and friends. Having a Speech-Language Pathologist work with an individual to create a memory book, or visual schedules of daily routines can aid an individual in maintaining independence. Therapy can also provide family with strategies and advice on how to best communicate, and provides continuous ongoing assessment of abilities to help determine the best long term plans for an individual.