Speech therapy is often referred to as language pathology and involves helping people cope with language and speech disorders which can have a negative affect on a person's quality of life. Most speech therapists work in health care, educational, or private settings that cater to individuals suffering from some type of speech impediment. Most conditions that prevent a person from being understood by others can be helped by speech therapy services.
Some speech impairments are inherited by genetics and are simply hereditary conditions. Speech problems such as stuttering, autism, development disabilities and hearing problems such as deafness can all impair a person's ability to communicate. Other speech problems are due to a physical impairment, and a speech therapist can work to correct the problem through physical therapy sessions that are meant to improve a person's vocal production. Many speech problems are the result of an illness such as a brain injury or stroke.
One of the most common speech impairments is stuttering. Stuttering is also called stammering and occurs when a person's speech is interrupted by repetitive sounds or words. Fortunately, speech therapy can be used to improve and eventually eliminate stuttering by helping an individual become more fluent in their speech. Speech therapy also includes counseling services for individuals who have been emotionally impacted by their speech problem. Some of the emotional conditions that can result from speech problems include stress, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Speech therapy is also used for children and adults who face learning difficulties. For example, memorization techniques are often used to hep a person locate the right word at the right moment. Other individuals may have an articulation disorder which robs them of the ability to pronounce certain words or syllables. Depending on the severity of the speech problem an individual may need the help of speech therapy services for several weeks, months, or years.
Speech therapy should not be confused with vocal training, which is used to help a person train his or her voice for singing or to improve communication and sound more articulate. Speech therapy services are exclusively for those with problems and disorders that are primarily genetic or physical and impair the ability of others to clearly understand them.
There are several core services that speech therapy offers. Speech therapy services include occupational therapy, physical therapy, language pathology, and social services. Most speech therapist have extensive experience working with individuals who have language disorders and are capable of treating a broad range of communication problems.