All too often, we assume speech therapy is exclusively for children. It’s an understandable mistake. Childhood is the formative time for speech development. However, speech and language problems can occur throughout our lives, leading us to seek help from a speech therapist. In 2012, an estimated 17.9 million adults experienced a speech or language disorder in the US, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. But few of those adults ever seek treatment.
In this article, we’ll peel back the veil, discussing common reasons an adult might visit a speech therapist and what occurs during adult speech therapy.
Common speech conditions in adults
Adult seeks out speech therapy for a variety of disorders, including:
Stuttering or fluency disorders:
Problems afflicting the flow, speed, or rhythm of speech are considered fluency disorders. The most common is stuttering: an involuntary repetition of syllables. Stuttering can be an embarrassing and frustrating condition in which adults cannot say what they want to.
Stroke affects the blood flow to the brain; doing so can damage areas associated with speech and language. Dysarthria involves weakness of muscles used for speech, leading to slurred or slow speech. It can also be caused by head injury or muscular dystrophy. Aphasia is the inability to retrieve words when speaking or writing. Around 2 million adults suffer from aphasia in the US.
This motor disorder results from difficulty controlling the muscle used to form words. People want to speak but are unable to do so. It is a problem of coordination. Apraxia often results from a head injury, dementia, or stroke (acquired apraxia).
Your vocal cords generate your voice. Any disease or condition affecting your vocal cords will affect your voice’s pitch, volume, or tone – this is a voice disorder.
Your vocal cords are situated in your larynx. Therefore, laryngeal cancer is a severe condition that affects speech. Following surgery, a speech therapist may help to strengthen vocal cords and improve speech.
During speech therapy
When meeting a speech therapist, your consultation will begin with an initial evaluation. Given your medical history, it may be obvious what conditions are affecting your speech, or it may require some digging and diagnosis. The speech therapist will also need to know the severity and history of the condition. Has it been getting worse? What makes it better? Have you tried any previous exercises? Family members may also be interviewed to gain a broader perspective on your communication difficulties.
Your treatment plan will be tailored to your precise needs. The condition you are suffering from will determine the nature of the treatment. Different conditions call for different measures. They will also affect how often you need to see the speech therapist.
Once your evaluation has been completed, you’ll begin your speech therapy sessions. Typically, such sessions occur once or twice a week. You’ll likely also be given homework to practice. Keeping up with the tasks your set will speed up recovery and improve your abilities. However, some patients will receive more adult speech therapy sessions initially if their symptoms are more severe. Your progress largely determines the length of treatment. Therapists may have a rough idea of the speed of progress. But they’re not psychic. Healing and recovery take time. Sadly, it’s just a matter of patience and perseverance.
Types of treatments
In your speech therapy sessions, there are a variety of different treatment types that could be employed. Here are some of the most common:
Focuses on learning speech sounds, either in syllables, words, or whole sentences. Most commonly used in children, articulation therapy also holds many benefits for adults too. If an adult has a speech impediment that never got fixed, it is too late to rectify the problem. Such problems can be a significant problem in adult life; therefore, it is worth searching for ‘speech therapy for adults near me’ on Google.
Is two-pronged. One element focuses on the obvious auditory aspects of stammering, the other on the underlying psychological causes. Starting with the slow production of sounds, stammering therapy retrains speech to flow normally without a stutter or stammer. Other techniques involve the use of anti-stuttering devices or medications to aid treatment.
Abdominal breathing therapy
Is often used to treat voice disorders. Using the diaphragm and deep breathing, adults are trained to improve how they generate their voice, improving symptoms.
Aphasia and cognitive-communication disorders
Are treated by strengthening existing language abilities. Alternative communication methods, such as gestures, pictures, or devices, can be employed to help. Often the nature of treatment is personalized to the individual circumstances. But many therapists use small group exercises, such as book clubs and support groups, to help improve social confidence and boost communication skills.
As you can see, the range of treatment options is varied and versatile. Depending upon your needs, speech therapists will tailor your treatment plan. However, if you think something might help, feel free to ask.
Booking an appointment
If you’re one of the millions of adults suffering in silence, don’t. Rediscover your voice and speech. You don’t need to live with a diminished quality of life. Speech therapy isn’t just for kids. Some speech therapists spend their entire careers only dealing with adults.
If you’ve got a condition that needs to be assessed, schedule a Free Consultation. It may just change your life.