“Everyone says my son is withdrawn; but he just doesn’t say much.”
“Molly has never been a big talker; she says and writes very little. She is now 13 and the school says they are concerned.”
“John always has a blank look on his face. Is he really paying attention or can he truly not understand what I’m requesting?”
Sadly, these are all examples of the start of language problems and how they can affect children. Weaknesses in language can influence a child’s learning and social skills, but these challenges can continue into adulthood.
A Speech therapist is qualified to work and help not only children but also adults who have the following types of problems: trouble formulating and using speech, trouble understanding language, difficulty using language, difficulty with feeding, chewing or swallowing, a stammer and a voice problem.
These problems may have been caused by a range of diseases and disabilities: strokes, learning disabilities, neurological disorders e.g. Parkinson’s disease, cancer of the mouth and throat, head injury, hearing loss and deafness, cleft palate and dementia.
How Can Speech therapists Help?
A good way to start is with a language assessment if you suspect something is a little off with someone’s speech and language skills. A comprehensive speech and language assessment includes formal testing, language samples, clinical observations and information provided by parents and teachers.
Speech therapists can help people of all ages with different speech and language disorders:
Articulation. When people have trouble saying certain sounds or words.
Fluency. When someone repeats certain sounds and has trouble saying the complete word.
Resonance. The speaker is saying the words but they sound cold or like its coming through a pipe.
Language disorders. Trouble putting words together to express thoughts.
Communication and swallowing disorders related to other issues. Hearing impairments, traumatic brain injury, dementia, development, intellectual or genetic disorders, and neurological impairments.
Some of the symptoms we look for in people with speech disorders are:
— Repeating sounds (most often seen in people who stutter)
— Adding extra sounds and words
— Elongating words
— Making jerky movements while talking (usually involving the head)
— Blinking several times while talking
— Visible frustration when trying to communicate
— Taking frequent pauses when talking
— Distorting sounds when talking
— Hoarseness (raspy or gravely-sounding voice)
There are strengths and weaknesses in all areas of auditory processing, receptive and expressive language, phonological processing, articulation, voice, fluency, and pragmatic functioning that will be detected and tested. The combination of all this will assist in a diagnosis and developing a plan to target areas of weakness.
Top 10 reasons to get to know a speech therapist:
10) Speech therapists use all kinds of devices
9) Speech therapists do it with you
8) Speech therapists work with your tongue
7) Speech therapists do it during mealtimes
6) Speech therapists do it for your health
5) Speech therapists do it orally
4) Speech therapists do it fluently
3) Speech therapists use the right position
2) Speech therapists are adaptable
1) Speech therapists do it in a group
Caroline Comet is a French Speech therapist working with Family Medical Practice, Hanoi. For more information call (04) 3843 0748 or click on vietnammedicalpractice.com