What is Speech-Language Therapy?
Speech-language therapy specializes in the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders. Primary pediatric speech and language disorders include receptive and expressive language disorders, speech sound disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, stuttering, and language-based learning disabilities.
Swallowing disorders include difficulties in any system of the swallowing process (i.e. oral, pharyngeal, esophageal), as well as functional dysphagia and feeding disorders. Swallowing disorders can occur at any age and can stem from multiple causes.
Common Speech-language Therapy Misconceptions
A common misconception is that speech-language therapy is restricted to correcting pronunciation difficulties, such as helping English speaking individuals enunciate their "s" and "r" sounds, and helping people who stutter to speak more fluently. In fact, speech-language pathology is concerned with a broad scope of speech, language, swallowing, and voice issues involving communication, some of which are:
Word-finding issues, either as a result of a specific language problem such as a language delay or a more general issue such as dementia.
Social communication difficulties involving how people communicate ideas with others (pragmatics).
Structural language impairments, including difficulties creating sentences that are grammatical (syntax) and meaningful (semantics).
Literacy impairments (reading and writing) related to the letter-to-sound relationship (phonics), the word-to-meaning relationship (semantics), and understanding the ideas presented in a text (reading comprehension).
Voice difficulties, such as a raspy voice, a voice that is too soft, or other voice difficulties that negatively impact a person's social or professional performance.
- Cognitive impairments (e.g., attention, memory, executive function) to the extent that they interfere with communication.