Speech therapy is often associated with young children, especially to help them acquire language skills. Even though it is true that speech therapists can help in these cases, they can also intervene in many other situations.
To find out more, we met with Amélie Leclerc-Poudrier, a speech therapist who recently joined the Clinique GOTM mobile team. She tells us how a speech therapist can help people of any age for communication, language, speech, or voice problems.
What does a speech therapist specialize in?
Speech therapists can help individuals of any age. They have training in a variety of fields, including language development, anatomy, physiology, linguistics, psychology… They are also familiar with communication, language, voice, and swallowing problems that can occur at any stage of life as well as the conditions that result in these issues.
Over their career, a speech therapist might develop an interest for specific problems and therefore focus on one kind of clientele, such as children with autism or adults who have problems communicating after a stroke. It’s important to keep in mind that these professionals are trained to evaluate patients and can help them to prevent problems or for rehabilitation purposes.
A speech therapist has many fields of expertise
To help us better understand how a speech therapist can assist a wide variety of clients, here are a few examples of problems that can benefit from their intervention. Indeed, most people don’t know that speech therapists have many fields of expertise.
Stroke and head injuries: these accidents can cause lesions in the brain that lead to language and communication problems such as aphasia, trouble understanding or expressing speech, or problems reading or writing. Dysarthria, difficulty with speech, may also occur after a stroke or a head injury and is caused by a weakness of the throat muscles or a paralysis. In these instances, the speech therapist can rehabilitate their client to help them recover their language skills when possible. A speech therapist will also be able to provide their patient and their loved ones with strategies to facilitate communication. They might also recommend the use of a communication tool such as a notebook, digital tablet, etc.
Neurodegenerative diseases: examples include Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson Disease which can lead to communication problems. In these cases, a speech therapist will provide their patient and their loved ones with strategies to make day-to-day communication easier. The goal is to maintain communication channels, whether verbal or nonverbal, to help the person continue to socialize and interact with others.
Swallowing disorders: dysphagia occurs when a person has difficulty swallowing. This can be caused by aging, neurological lesions (from a stroke or head injury), neurodegenerative disorders, and some cancers. Speech therapists can help by providing the client with strategies to help them swallow and will be able to recommend exercises to help them with their condition.
Voice disorders (dysphonia): speech therapists can also help anyone who relies on their voice for their professional career (professors, conference speakers, singers, etc.) to adopt and maintain healthy communication habits to prevent or treat vocal fatigue caused by the improper or excessive use of their voice.
Written language disorders: dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects how a person decodes words when reading whereas dysorthographia is a learning disability related to writing. They both manifest when children reach school age and can hinder their academic progress. A speech therapist can evaluate a child and provide them with efficient strategies for reading and writing. They might also rely on technological tools and issue recommendations to the school to help the child fulfill their potential while making it easier for them succeed.
As you now know, speech therapists can help in a wide variety of cases. If you are wondering if our mobile services in speech therapy could help you, contact our team today!