What is Speech Therapy?

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is a treatment for speech and language disorders.  A speech disorder involves a problem producing words and sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding words and putting together sentences and ideas for communication.  Speech therapy helps individuals gain the ability to communicate through speech and language.

Speech therapists might use repetitive exercises and training as well as assistive devices for communication to assist with what is speech therapy.  Called augmentive and assistive communication, or AAC, these devices produce speech or sound for those who are nonverbal.

Speech therapy targets a great deal of speech and language disorders, including the following:

  • Articulation disorders:  difficulty producing sounds or syllables or saying words incorrectly
  • Fluency disorders:  including problems like stuttering, which is characterized by abnormal stoppages, repetitions, or prolonging sounds in words
  • Dysphagia or feeding disorders:  difficulties with eating and swallowing
  • Receptive or expressive communication disorders:  difficulties understanding and processing language, or difficulty putting words together to form sentences, or trouble expressing or communicating in a socially acceptable way
  • Complications from birth defects surgery:  difficulty speaking due to effects of conditions like cleft palate or surgery involving the throat and mouth

Children might have difficulty in one of these speech and language areas due to cognitive or learning disabilities, hearing impairments, autism, birth defects, brain injury, motor planning problems, or feeding and swallowing disorders.  Speech therapy is often available as a part of a child’s IEP, and it is also often covered under insurance.

Speech therapy sessions involve modeling proper speech and using repetition exercises to improve speech and language.  Speech therapists might use play or books to stimulate communication and increase chances to develop language skills.  Therapists will model correct pronunciation, articulation, and expression during play activities and might actually physically show a child how to move their mouths or tongue to create what is speech properly.

Early intervention is key, as with most other therapies for special needs.  Many children who have early intervention in what is speech therapy will improve enough to not need it later in life.  Speech and language therapy can ensure that your child will be better able to communicate and understand words.

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Written by: Candice Evans See other articles by Candice Evans
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