Each May the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) publicizes Better Speech and Hearing Month, a campaign created to increase public awareness about communication disorders and how people can access services that can improve their communication and overall quality of life. In support of this campaign, we’re focusing our blogs for the month of May on the different services that speech-language pathologists offer and how they help people with communication disorders. Last week, we talked about how speech-therapists can help people with voice problems. Today we’ll focus on speech and language disorders: what they are, how they affect communication, and how a speech-language pathologist can help.
Most people use the terms “speech” and “language” interchangeably. However, for a person with a communication disorder, the two can be very different. Speech disorders involve how a person sounds when they speak. For example, this can mean voice problems, difficulty with certain sounds (like a lisp or trouble saying ‘r’), or stuttering. Speech disorders can be the result of a neurological injury like a stroke, a developmental disorder, or may have no known cause. A speech-language pathologist will work with a person to identify the sounds or parts of speech that a person is most challenged by, and work with them to improve clarity.
Language disorders go beyond the sounds of speech and impact the ability find the words or constructing the sentences you need to express thoughts, ideas and feelings. Language disorders can also affect how a person understands language. Language disorders can impact speaking, listening, reading or writing. Like speech disorders, language disorders can be caused by a range of different sources including stroke, traumatic brain injury, developmental disorders like autism, or intellectual disabilities. There are also language disorders for which no specific cause can be found, for example, delayed language in childhood. Whatever the cause, a speech-language pathologist can help a person to bolster the areas of language that are most impacting their ability to communicate. In some cases, a speech therapist may recommend the use of a device to help a person communicate. This can be high-tech, like a speech-generating computer, or very simple, like a picture board.
Do you or someone you know live with a speech or language disorder? What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? Share your story in the comments section below!
If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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