A guide to understanding Speech Language Therapy

We’re going to answer some of your questions about Speech Language Therapy!

Speech Language Therapists are Allied Health professionals who primarily treat conditions around communication challenges and swallowing issues. They work in a range of settings, such as schools, community health centres and with providers such as Better Days. Speech Language Therapists can help people of all ages and abilities to develop the skills they need to communicate effectively, manage mealtimes and build social skills.

In this blog, we’re going to answer some common questions about Speech Language Therapy to help you understand exactly what it means and how it can help you achieve your goals!

What is Speech Language Therapy?

Speech Language Therapy is a profession that focuses on human communication. It combines scientific study with extensive on the job training to help people with things like speaking, listening, understanding and being able to express themselves effectively through social cues like tone and body language.

Language is complicated. There are unwritten rules for things like conversing and storytelling, and they change depending on the context, for example if you’re talking to a toddler versus an elderly person. There are also lots of different ways you can use language to get what you need, whether that’s greeting someone, informing them about something or requesting something from them.

Speech Language Therapy breaks it down into manageable steps to give people the skills they need to use in everyday situations. It covers everything from making the right sounds to finding the right words and using the appropriate gestures, like shrugging or giving someone a thumbs up, to get a message across.

Speech Language Therapy also includes diagnosis and treatment of common swallowing disorders. These swallowing difficulties can develop at any stage of life. Speech Language Therapy includes a close study of all the muscles in the face and neck, which is why Speech Language Therapists can help with functions like eating, drinking, chewing, sucking and making sure food and drink go down the right way. Swallowing is a vital skill that is critical for quality of life.

What does a Speech Language Therapy do?

Speech Language Therapy work to prevent, diagnose, treat and assess a range of communication and swallowing disorders. They typically attend university for four years, although they may study longer if they specialise in a particular area, and they complete extensive clinical training. They use a range of treatment techniques and strategies that can be tailored to the needs of the individual.

Develop communication skills

Speech Language Therapists are perhaps best known for the work they do helping young children develop the skills they need to succeed at school. This can include learning to communicate verbally, improving listening and understanding skills, developing reading and writing skills and learning to pick up on things like tone and body language. Generally speaking, the school will refer the family to a Speech Language Therapist as soon as it becomes clear the student needs a little extra help getting started.

Teach effective communication

They also work closely with people living with disabilities and elderly members of the community. Most of the time, this means helping with things like learning to say what you mean to say or speaking clearly without stuttering. Teaching effective communication can include everything from developing exercises to strengthen certain muscles to educating people on the use of augmentative and alternative communication methods or devices like sign language, communication boards and speech-generating devices.

Build social skills and relationships

Some people find social settings easier than others. Speech Language Therapy can assist those who struggle to read cues or interact with others. They can help develop the skills necessary to start conversations, understand how other people are thinking and feeling and learn to respond appropriately. Their goal is to help people build healthy and fulfilling relationships, which means learning the unwritten rules of society and developing the coping strategies needed to navigate a wide variety of social situations.

Assist with eating and drinking

Finally, when it comes to mealtimes, Speech Language Therapists can help people eat, drink and swallow safely. If someone is frequently coughing, gagging, or choking, Speech Pathologists can assess swallowing function, provide therapy to help the muscles function properly, develop mealtime management plans and recommend diet modifications or make further medical referrals.

What conditions do Speech Language Therapists treat?

Speech Language Therapists help people living with a broad range of conditions and other help conditions to communicate better and experiencing a higher quality of life. This includes issues with motor skills, listening and comprehension skills, cognitive-communication disorders, and more.

Here are some examples of common conditions Speech Language Therapists can help with:

  • Spasmodic dysphonia, which is a chronic condition that affects the voice
  • Aphasia, which is a disorder that affects the brain’s language capabilities
  • Dysarthria, which is a symptom of nerve or muscle damage
  • Dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing, eating or drinking
  • Intellectual disabilities, including Down syndrome
  • Developmental language disorder
  • Mutism and selective mutism
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Acquired brain injury
  • Stroke recovery
  • Hearing loss
  • Stuttering
  • Lisping

This isn’t a complete list! If you or someone you know is experiencing any issues with communicating or swallowing, make an appointment to see a Speech Language Therapist.

Where can I get Speech Language Therapy services?

Here at Better Days, we are passionate about providing quality Allied Health services to members of our community. Click through to learn more about who we are and how our Speech Language Therapy services can help, or contact us now to get started.