A speech-language pathologist (SLP) or speech therapist, is a skilled professional who diagnoses and treats speech and language disorders. The field of speech-language pathology is very diverse, as SLPs can specialize in everything from feeding and swallowing disorders to reading intervention.
Speech refers to verbal means of communicating. It encompasses things such as voice, fluency, and pronunciation of specific sounds. Speech difficulties can occur for a number of different reasons and a simple speech evaluation can help determine what’s wrong and how to treat it.
Language, on the other hand, is composed of socially shared rules and includes understanding and use of vocabulary, manipulating words to form new words, formulating sentences, and using appropriate sets of words for specific situations. A language evaluation should be conducted if your child presents with difficulties in any of these areas.
Based on developmental norms, it is expected that your child say his/her first word around 12 months, with at least 10-20 words by about 18 months. By 24 months, your child should be stringing two word combinations together, such as, “Daddy go,” “Want ball,” or “More milk.”
Keep in mind that these skills do not develop at the same exact age for all children and that these ages act merely as a reference point. So for example, if your child is 13 months and has not said his/her first word, it is certainly not time to panic. If your child is 18 months however and has not spoken a word, this may be of concern.
Our assessment are done over 3, 40-45min assessment sessions.
All assessments are highly individualized and are dependent on the client’s unique needs (e.g., is assessment needed to qualify the child for in district school therapy services, are parents seeking an independent evaluation to be used in a court case, etc)
Medical issues such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis can affect speaking and language skills. Accidents that injure the brain, throat, jaw, or facial structure can also impair the ability to speak. While adult speech therapy is not guaranteed to cure all speech disabilities, many patients see strong improvement in language skills and increased confidence and quality of life.
Age is another factor that can lead to speech and language disorders. Weakened muscles in the throat and vocal cord area and diminished cognitive abilities can be as detrimental to speech as illness or injury. Advanced age can also affect swallowing abilities. Many speech therapy treatments are useful for both speech disabilities and swallowing disorders.
An inability to speak properly is often embarrassing, and many adults are reluctant to seek help. It may be time to seek out speech therapy if your loved one experiences any combination of the following symptoms:
Speaking softly or barely able to whisper
Rapid rate of speech with mumbling
Hoarseness, breathiness, or nasal and stuffy-sounding speech
Poor vocal quality
Decline in memory
Decline in ability to produce or understand language
Difficulty with non-speech movements such as sticking out the tongue
How are speech disabilities diagnosed?
Speech therapists perform a variety of mental and physical tests during the diagnosis process. Treatment will begin once the underlying cause of the disability is identified. The therapist customizes a program to fit the needs of the patient and their specific disorder, such as those mentioned below.
Dysarthria is a condition in which weak muscles in the jaw and mouth area make speaking difficult. While age is a common cause of Dysarthria, it can also result from illnesses such as Cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, stroke, or brain injury. Treatment for Dysarthria involves oral motor therapy, in which the patient mimics mouth movements made by the speech therapist.
Damage to the speech-related areas of the brain can cause Apraxia, which makes it difficult for patients to put sounds together to make words. Treatment for Apraxia involves the patient slowing the pace of their speech and breaking sentences down into individual sounds that are practiced over and over until the sentence is mastered.
Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing. It can affect one or all stages of swallowing, including chewing, moving food into the throat, and squeezing food through the esophagus to the stomach. Undiagnosed dysphagia can result in dehydration and malnutrition. Speech therapy for Dysphagia involves physical exercises to improve muscle function and swallowing abilities, which is especially important for aging adults.
Voice disorders—when the vocal folds can’t vibrate effectively within the larynx to make a clear sound—are caused by a variety of conditions, including age, damage from injury or excessive yelling, vocal fold polyps or cysts, and laryngopharyngeal reflux (when stomach acid backs up into the larynx). Treatment options include strengthening exercises, vocal technique lessons, and reduction of vocally abusive behaviors. Some patients with voice disorders are candidates for vocal fold surgery, and speech therapy is an essential part of the recovery process.
We have rooms in both Midrand at 157 Allan Road Glen Austin and the Baby and Child wellness center , 279 Bryanston Drive, Bryanston. We also offer home visits.