Speech Therapist

November 12, 2012

Speech Therapist

When learning to talk some children have difficulty pronouncing some words or sounds. This can be frustrating for them and for those around them who may have difficulty understanding what the child is trying to say. Most children will naturally grow out of their difficulties and eventually get their tongue around the sounds and words they had previously found so hard. For others the problem may be more long standing and of course the older a child is the more embarrassing he or she may find their difficulties. The good news for these children is that it is relatively easy to find help with the help of a speech therapist- also referred to as speech-language pathologists.

Speech therapists are able to deal with a wide variety of speech and language problems in people of all ages – not just children. Some of the difficulties a child may encounter could be with articulation – a lisp for example is considered to be an articulation disorder. A stutter – where the child has difficult completing a word and may get fixed on a certain sound – repetition of the sound ‘bu bu bu’ for example when trying to say ‘ball’ – this may be referred to by the speech therapist as a fluency disorder. For some children the problem is one of resonance, or a voice disorder. This occurs when the child, for example, begins to speak loudly and clearly but finishes in a barely audible mumble, or perhaps they talk through their nose giving a nasal tone as if they are suffering with a cold. Speech therapists may also be consulted by children with language disorders – that is to say those children who seem to have difficulty expressing themselves or comprehending what others are saying.

A speech therapist may also be able to assist with any medical condition which may inhibit a child’s ability to speak fluently. Some of these conditions including muscle weakness in the jaw and around the mouth; hearing impairment; cleft palette; difficulties with breathing and/or swallowing; those children who are on the autistic spectrum.

Most children will probably find the prospect visiting a speech therapist somewhat daunting and may worry unnecessarily. The first visit will entail a speech test – there is no pass or fail with this test it is merely a tool the therapist uses to diagnosis the particular speech problem the child is struggling with. The child will be asked to repeat various sounds and words, the therapist may record this part of the session and will probably also take written notes. As a result of this procedure the speech therapist can determine what plan of treatment is best for the child’s particular problem.

Most speech disorders are treated with practice. A child struggling with fluency or articulation will watch as the therapist shows him or her how to make the proper sounds – once the therapist has demonstrated the child will try to emulate them – copying the lips. Sometimes a mirror may be used – a child can make the sounds and watch themselves at the same time – the use of games will often also be used to make the whole process more fun. Occasionally the speech therapist will help with grammar, with how to express oneself clearly, with putting together clear statements and help to develop skills which will aid a better understanding with what the child hears and says. Sometimes it may even seem as if the therapy session is just an extension of school!

Every child is different as are their needs and condition, for this reason it is difficult to estimate how long treatment with a speech therapist will last. Some may see their therapist several times a week, some may only go once a week. For some the treatment will only last weeks, for others it may go on for years. One things is sure the best thing to do if you have any kind of speech disorder is to practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. Find time every day to work on the skills your therapist has shown you, get your parents to help you and soon all the hard work will pay off.

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