Speech and language therapy is a treatment method indented to be used for helping people of all ages who have problems in pronouncing different sounds used in a language and to communicate the ideas indented by them to other people clearly and efficiently. This therapeutic method is also used to help people who have problems in performing activities like eating, drinking, swallowing etc. In speech and language therapy the terms speech, language and communication have distinctive meanings which have to be understood clearly before proceeding to study about speech language therapy.
Speech refers to the ability of a person to enunciate different sounds that are necessary for speaking. Language deals with combination of sounds forming meaningful words and the rules necessary for combining them to make meaningful sentences. Communication is the process of interacting with other persons and making them understand what was indented to be communicated.
A speech language therapist is a person who is trained to access the problems in speech, language and communication of people of all ages and to regulate them in such a way that their difficulties and problems in all the above fields will be overcome and they will be able to communicate to the best of their ability. They also help people who have problems in eating or swallowing and also help children to overcome their barriers in proper speaking and provide help and support to them and their guardians.
Speech and language therapist work in a variety of settings which includes inpatient outpatient wings of hospitals, community health centers, special schools etc. Speech and language therapist can be of very great help to persons suffering with the following difficulties:
1) People who have a learning difficulty.
2) People who have suffered a stroke.
3) People who have throat and mouth cancer.
4) People who suffer from hearing loss and who are deaf.
5) People who have cleft palate.
6) People who are affected by dementia, and psychiatric disorders.
Before starting the treatment procedure the speech and language therapist tries to find out what is the real problem of the patient. He tries to assess factors like how different sounds are produced by the patient. For this purpose he may use a laryngoscope which is an instrument used to view the slow motion videos of the vibrations of the vocal cords. He also tries to find out the ability of the patient to comprehend words. Once these factors are indentified and evaluated, then he may chart out a treatment plan which will be most suitable and practical and beneficial to patient in which the co-operation of the teachers and the family members of the child play a vital part. So their participation and support are ascertained for the successful completion of the treatment program charted out by the speech language therapist.
Difficulties in Speech and Language Disorder
1) Comprehension : A child may find it difficult to understand the ideas expressed in a long sentence. He may also find it difficult to comprehend a sentence if it contains more ideas.
2) Expression : In this kind of difficulty the child may be able to find out the words needed to express an idea. But he may be struggling to find out the correct words which can make it meaningful for communication.
3) Using language : In this kind of difficulty the child may be able to find out all the words, but may not be able to use them according to the situations that he will have to express the idea.
4) Using speech sounds : In this case the child knows all the words, needed for him to express an idea, but he may not be able to produce certain sounds which impair him the ability to express the idea completely.
Children with speech and language disorders require special training and help to teach communication skills to them which other people acquire naturally.