Speech therapy addresses communication problems and speech disorders. Assessment and treatment is offered by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), who are often referred to as speech therapists.
Depending on the type of speech or language disorder, language intervention activities, articulation therapy, and other speech therapy techniques may be used to improve communication.
Both children and adults may need speech therapy for speech disorders that develop in childhood or speech impairments in adults caused by an injury or illness, such as a brain injury or stroke.
Which Disorders Does Speech Therapy Address?
Articulation disorders: Patients with an articulation disorder struggle to correctly form certain word sounds. An individual may drop, distort, swap, or add word sounds. For example, the person may say “thith” instead of “this.”
Fluency disorders: A fluency disorder affects the speed, flow, and rhythm of speech. Individuals may stutter and clutter when speaking. A person who stutters has difficulty producing sound and may have blocked or interrupted speech, or they may repeat part or all of a word. A person who clutters often speaks very quickly and combines words.
Resonance disorders: A blockage or obstruction of regular airflow in the nasal or oral cavities may alter the vibrations responsible for voice quality. This is called a resonance disorder. The condition can also occur if the velopharyngeal valve fails to close properly. Resonance disorders are often associated with neurological disorders, a cleft palate, and swollen tonsils.
Receptive disorders: A receptive language disorder makes it difficult to understand and process what others say. This can cause an individual to seem uninterested when listening to someone speak, have difficulty following directions, or have a limited vocabulary. A receptive language disorder may be caused by autism, hearing loss, other language disorders, and a head injury.
Aphasia: This disorder affects a person’s ability to speak, understand others, read, and write. Aphasia is commonly caused by stroke, though other brain disorders can also cause it.
Expressive disorders: Individuals with an expressive language disorder struggle to convey or express information, accurately form sentences, or use the correct verb tense. This type of disorder is associated with developmental impairments, such as Down syndrome, and hearing loss. Expressive disorders can also result from head trauma or a medical condition.
Cognitive-communication disorders: A cognitive-communication disorder is characterized by difficulty communicating due to an injury to the part of the brain that controls the ability to process thoughts. The disorder can lead to difficulty with memory, problem solving, speaking, and listening. Abnormal brain development, brain injury, and stroke can cause cognitive-communication disorders.
Dysarthria: Individuals with dysarthria have slow or slurred speech as a result of a weakness or inability to control the muscles used to speak. The disorder may be caused by nervous system disorders and conditions that cause throat and tongue weakness or facial paralysis, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), and stroke.