by John Frankenheimer
While speech therapy has been used for decades to help children with speech and language difficulties to learn to communicate, it also has tremendous benefits for adults with language- and speech-related issues. Adult speech therapies are generally administered to individuals who may be experiencing speech difficulties as a result of an injury or illness.
Common issues that may require speech therapy in adults
Adult speech therapy is frequently part of a long-term recovery plan aimed at treating speech, eating and swallowing related challenges.
Some of the most common conditions that affect a person’s ability to speak, use facial muscles or eat include cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), brain injury, stroke, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease and accidental injury. Any form of injury or illness that hampers brain function or affects the vocal cords, the throat, jaw or facial muscles can lead to problems with speaking.
Although therapy may not completely correct a speech disability, it can certainly help improve the language-related skills and quality of life for an adult.
Signs indicating the need for speech therapy in an adult
A speech disorder can result from the factors listed above, and it can also be a result of the natural aging process. Often, a senior adult who is having difficulty speaking or eating may not seek professional help, sometimes due to lack of information or resources and often because they may be too embarrassed to discuss the issue.
If an elderly or a recovering loved one has the following symptoms, consider taking them for an evaluation by a certified speech-language pathologist (SL-P).
- Speaking less or very softly
- Whispering instead of speaking clearly
- Stuttering or mumbling words
- Speaking too fast or too slow
- Declining memory
- Loss of ability to speak or understand words
- Nasal speech, hoarseness in voice
- Heavy breathing while trying to speak
- Problem eating or swallowing food
- Difficulty using facial muscles, jaw or tongue
If you suspect that a loved one may have a speech disorder, take them to see a certified therapist for a thorough assessment. Do take a look at LifeSpeech.org, a trusted speech and language therapy provider in Singapore, known for their comprehensive language therapy programs for both children and adults.
Problems treated by a speech-language pathologist/therapist
An SL-P can evaluate, diagnose and treat problems related to speaking and understanding language. They can also help with eating and swallowing disorders. A certified therapist can assess and devise a customized treatment plan for improving the following:
- Ability to speak and comprehend spoken and written language
- Ability to speak and articulate
- Stuttering and problems with tone of voice
- Poor attention and memory
- Poor cognitive abilities, such as solving day-to-day problems
- Auditory rehab
- Problems with swallowing food
Aside from these, some pathologists also offer special services such as modification of accent, removing regional influences in speech, voice hygiene, voice therapy for transgender persons, improving business language, and so forth.
To make the most of an adult speech therapy program, choose a professional who has the qualification, skill, experience and compassion to treat the problem.