What You Need To Know About Working With a Certified Speech Therapist
Nearly 10 million Americans suffer from some type of speech-language disorder. That’s about one out of every 20 people.
If you or someone you love has difficulty speaking, a certified speech therapist has the tools, knowledge, and resources to help. Regular therapy sessions can help you understand the mechanisms behind your condition and ways to improve it.
As you learn strategies to improve your communication skills, your overall quality of life can improve. Yet, to get the most out of each session, it’s important to prepare ahead of time and know what to expect.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the structure of speech therapy and how to find a therapist you can trust.
What Is Speech Therapy?
Before we dive into what a speech therapist does, let’s take a closer look at this field of work.
Put simply, speech-language pathology is the study and treatment of communication disorders. It also focuses on disorders related to swallowing that can affect an individual’s ability to communicate.
Both adults and children can suffer from speech-language disorders. This category encompasses a range of conditions that prevent the full and proper articulation of sounds. In addition, these disorders can also impact an individual’s ability to express or understand language, as well as their fluency and ability to swallow.
When someone attends a speech therapy session, they learn techniques to help them communicate better. They also learn how to break down the barriers that speech impediments can sometimes cause.
Some of the main goals of speech therapy include:
- Improving pronunciation
- Learning to speak correctly
- Strengthening the facial muscles used in speech
Range of Services
The field of speech therapy is vast. A certified therapist can work on problems as minor as temporary hoarseness all the way up to a partial loss of speech due to brain damage.
Depending on the extent of the condition, a therapist may recommend that a patient receive other types of services in addition to speech therapy. For instance, medical support or psychological treatment may be necessary to provide full-scale, comprehensive support.
Types of Disorders Treated
Most of the disorders that a speech therapist can treat fall into one of four main categories. These include:
- Speech disorders
- Language disorders
- Voice disorders
- Swallowing disorders
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
If an individual is diagnosed with a speech disorder, this means they have difficulty performing any of the following tasks:
- Producing the basic sounds of speech
- Speaking fluently
- Saying words clearly and correctly
Speech disorders usually begin in childhood. For instance, a child who has difficulty with pronunciation may speak with a lisp. Or, they may have a difficult time pronouncing certain consonants, such as their “R” sound.
On some occasions, speech disorders occur concurrently with developmental disorders. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, psychological and neurological disorders can also play a role.
Within the broader category of speech disorders, there’s also a niche of conditions called fluency disorders. These conditions affect the evenness or flow of an individual’s speech. Stuttering and cluttering are two of the most common fluency disorders.
When someone stutters, they tend to repeat or stretch out certain syllables or sounds in words. They may also inject long pauses into their speech. Someone who clutters will speak abnormally fast, which can also affect pronunciation and fluency.
If an individual suffers from a language disorder, this can affect their ability to achieve certain milestones, such as:
- Learning to speak
- Building complete sentences
- Naming objects
There are several health issues that can lead to the development of a language disorder in children. These include:
- General developmental problems
- Brain development disorders
- Hearing problems
In adults, language-specific disorders usually occur as the result of a disease or brain injury. For instance, a stroke can impact an adult’s ability to remember words or form fluent sentences. When this occurs, the disorder is called aphasia.
Sometimes, an individual may struggle with a change to their voice. The change can occur without notice and last indefinitely.
Often, the voice is simply strained. For instance, someone may speak horsely or nearly silently after speaking too loudly or for a prolonged period of time. In other cases, the cause may be more serious in nature, such as a problem with the vocal nodules on someone’s larynx (voice box).
People with swallowing disorders can also benefit from speech therapy.
This condition affects the muscles responsible for swallowing. When someone can’t use these muscles correctly, it can become difficult to eat or drink.
Most swallowing disorders are related to nervous system conditions, such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Head injuries
What Does a Certified Speech Therapist Do?
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, a speech therapist can help improve your abilities and offer ways to live with your condition.
Before you meet with one, it helps to get a picture of what to expect and how your initial visit may go. Let’s take a look at a brief overview.
Any time you are scheduled to meet with a healthcare provider, be sure to check their credentials first. You can request this information from your physician or speak to the therapist directly.
A few of the key questions to ask include:
- How long have you been practicing?
- What kind of licensing and certifications have you earned?
- Do you have experience working with individuals who have my specific type of speech-language disorder?
- What kind of approach do you generally take to speech therapy?
It’s critical to make sure that anyone who will be treating you holds the proper license, credentials, and certification to do so.
At Med1Care, all of our speech therapists are qualified and properly credentialed to work in their field. We’ve been a trusted healthcare provider for more than two decades, delivering services right to patients in the comfort of their homes. You can learn more about our approach on our About Us page.
Medical History Review
The first time you attend a speech therapy session, your therapist will take the time to review your medical history. They will also talk to you about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing to learn more about them and better understand your needs.
Assess and Diagnose
If you haven’t received a formal diagnosis for your speech-language disorder, your therapist will work to determine what’s at the root of the problem. Once they have a diagnosis, they’ll know which treatment routes will be the most effective.
Next, your speech therapist should also spend some time talking to you about your goals for the short-term and long-term future. This will help them understand the certain techniques and practice methods that will benefit you the most.
Some of the most common goals that speech therapy patients create include:
- Improving pronunciation
- Developing strategies that reduce stutter or clutter
- Strengthening the muscles required for speech
- Learning how to speak correctly
Customized Speech Therapy Plan
Once your speech therapist has thoroughly reviewed your history and current condition, they will work with you to develop a custom speech therapy plan.
Depending on the disorder that affects you, this plan may include any of the following services and treatments:
- Speech development
- Language development
- Voice techniques
- Swallowing techniques
- Sign language
There are many different types of techniques that a speech therapist can use to help you meet these goals. They will develop a plan of care that’s specifically centered on your individual needs.
A typical day at speech therapy will look different for everyone. Key factors that affect the structure of your session include your age and the type of speech-language condition you have.
For children, most sessions will involve some type of play, such as a board game that focuses on language development. This is to encourage participation, promote learning, and keep the sessions enjoyable to establish a positive connection.
For adults, sessions are usually focused on improving, rebuilding, or forming new skill sets. The skills you learn will correlate with the goals you want to achieve.
Schedule a Visit With a Certified Speech Therapist
If you or someone you love suffers from a speech-language disorder, you know how much this condition can affect their daily life.
Regular visits with a certified speech therapist can help them break free of these strongholds. At each session, they’ll learn how to communicate and express themselves more easily and effectively.
If your healthcare provider recommends speech therapy, contact our team at Med1Care. We can provide a certified, experienced speech therapist right to your home, taking the stress and guesswork out of this step.
Complete our online Therapy Services Form today to get started and we’ll be in touch!