The main purpose of Speech Therapy is to improve communication disorders and difficulties in children and in adults. Regardless of how small a concern may be, our core aim is to build up confidence and a solid foundation in speech and language. This extra help and guidance will allow children and adults to progress with their social communication and potentially structure new ways of expression.
It is common for parents to have slight concerns about their child’s language development. If you are a new parent or unaware of what it’s like to have speech difficulties, it can be hard for you to identify the first telltale signs. Without the right source of information, it is difficult for you to fully support yourself or your child when it comes to improving their communication.
With that said, speech therapy isn’t purely here to help those who are in the early stages of speech development. We are no strangers in helping adults who need extra support becoming a stronger communicator. Currently, there is still the misconception that speech therapy is there to only help individuals with noticeable disorders. However, this isn’t the case. Speech Therapists also help individuals who need guidance with their speech so that they can convey their thoughts clearly and concisely.
In this short guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the various speech disorders there are and the ways you can identify the key symptoms. To help you out a little bit more, at the end of each description we’ve included ways to help improve the detected speech issue. But as always, if you need extra guidance, a professional diagnosis is best to confirm your suspicions.
Types of Speech Difficulties and Disorders
With this disorder, the quality of sound vibration in speech is affected by the inconsistency/obstruction in the airflow passing through the throat, mouth and nose. “Normal” speakers tend to have good airflow through the mouth when pronouncing the majority of sounds. An individual with Resonance Disorder will have problems with the quality of their voice due to Velopharyngeal Dysfunction.
The common cause of resonance disorder is the craniofacial disorder like those with cleft palate. However, enlarged adenoids, neurological disorders and/or childhood apraxia of speech may also develop into the resonance disorder.
- Excessive amount of sound/air coming from the nose when talking OR decreased airflow through the nose due to blockage (individual may sound like they have a constant cold)
- Weak pronunciation with consonant sounds
- Short utterance length due to the loss of air coming through the mouth
- Pains when speaking
- Their speech may sound muffled due to obstruction of airflow
Speech Therapy Treatments
Speech therapy is a great option for those who have mild resonance disorder. Typical sessions may consist of teaching the child/adult on how to use their lips, tongue and velopharyngeal valve correctly in order to communicate better.
Articulation disorder is where individuals have difficulty articulating certain sounds and syllables. The spectrum of this disorder can range from a person slurring their speech to someone substituting a sound to something similar.
As speech difficulties can develop at any age, we believe that it is important to recognise the key symptoms during the early stages of the disorder.
- Slight stuttering when trying to pronounce certain sounds
- Sound substitution (e.g replacing the “s” in sorry for “thorry”)
- Sound omission (e.g for the word “blue” the sound “oo” is pronounced instead)
- Sound distortion (e.g the “r” in rascal is pronounced like “wascal” instead)
- “Baby talk” is still prominent after the young child phase
Speech Therapy Treatments
Although there is no instant cure for Articulation Disorders, there are still a range of treatments available. Depending on the severity of the disorder, sessions will be tailored to restructure speech patterns in a relaxed environment.
Fluency Disorder is where individuals have behaviours of repeating words, sounds and/or syllables when trying to communicate. As stuttering is the common form of Fluency Disorder, many of us are very aware of what the symptoms consist of.
However, Cluttering is another form of Fluency Disorder. Less spoken about than stuttering, this disorder is where an individual has an irregular or rapid rate of speech; causing them to delete or collapse certain syllables when speaking.
- Whole word repetitions
- Part word/sound repetitions
- Excessive struggling when pronouncing words
- Rapid speech
- Excessive deletion of syllables or word endings
- Excessive use of filler words
- Unnecessary pauses in sentences.
Speech Therapy Treatment
Just like all the other speech disorders mentioned above, there is an assessment made which helps decide which treatment is best suited for the patient. The sessions will work on specific goals that’ll help reduce and/or eliminate fluency difficulties without developing negative emotions/memory.
Helping your child & Loved ones
After over 10 years of experience working for the NHS Children’s SLT services, I believe that finding the right speech therapist is important. With that said, the involvement of the child’s parent in speech development and therapy is crucial for success. This is why we ensure that parents are fully equipped with guidance and information when it comes to helping their child succeed.
If you are interested in a learning more, be sure to check out our previous articles. If you believe that your child may have difficulties with their speech, please talk about your concerns with a professional speech therapist.