Stop feeling frustratingly tongue tied. Speech therapy involves the assessment and treatment of language and communication problems with the aim to help people communicate to the best of their ability. Speech therapy is designed to treat speech impediments, help people communicate after an accident or stroke that limits their capabilities or aid those who have been born with eating, swallowing and communication problems as a result of medical conditions.
Following specialist assessment and referral from a GP, patients are usually assigned their own speech and language therapist who then works closely with psychologists, teachers (in the case of a child) and other health professionals to devise a programme that will benefit their individual case.
Techniques used during speech therapy may include:
Often children are referred following diagnosis of a genetic disorder or when a healthcare/education realises that they are not progressing at a reasonable rate in comparison to others in their peer group. Adults may be referred for the first time following traumatic brain injury, stroke, the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, cranial nerve damage or progressive neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s).
Assessments and treatment mainly take place in educational establishment or specialist departments of healthcare centres. Some speech therapists may undertake home visits, but it’s best to enquire if you feel this arrangement may be best for you.
If you or your child has severe problems communicating with others as a result of physical set backs, mental health issues or learning difficulties, the services of a speech therapist may be helpful. If you have been held back by minor speech problems (such as a lisp, difficulty pronouncing Rs or a stammer), they can be treated at any stage and occupational therapists can often work closely with speech therapists if communication issues are affecting your ability to work.
Around 2.5 million people in the UK have a speech or language difficulty and five percent of children enter school whilst struggling with speech and language.