Speech therapy is the evaluation and treatment of speech disorders and other communication problems. It is conducted by SLPs (Speech-Language pathologists), also called speech therapists. These professionals who conduct speech and language therapy in London deal with 3 main issues: speech disorders, language disorders, and feeding disorders.

Speech Disorders:

These refer to problems in making sounds. Such disorders include:

  • Disorders of articulation

These are issues with making sounds with regard to syllables or making improper speech sounds that another person cannot understand.

  • Disorders of fluency

These are issues such as stuttering in which the flow of speech is interrupted by prolonging sounds (like sssss-snake), partial repetition of words (“b-b-boy”), or unusual stops.

  • Disorders of voice or resonance

These are issues with quality, volume, and pitch of voice, which confuses listeners about what is being said. Such kinds of disorders may also cause discomfort or pain for a child while he speaks.

Language Disorders:

A language disorder is diagnosed when a person has trouble putting words together or understanding them in order to communicate. Disorders of language can be expressive, receptive, or cognitive:

  • Receptive disorders

These are problems with processing or understanding language. A person with a receptive disorder has problems with processing and understanding what others say. This can cause him to seem bored when others speak, have issues with following directions, or possess a limited vocabulary. This disorder is caused mainly by head injury, hearing loss, other language disorders, or autism.

  • Expressive disorders

These are problems with putting together words to form sentences, having a very low vocabulary, or lacking the capacity to make use of language in a socially suitable manner. The patient finds it tough to express or convey information. He may suffer from developmental issues like Down’s Syndrome, hearing loss, etc. It can also be caused by a medical condition like head trauma.

  • Cognitive disorders related to communication

These are problems with communicative skills which involve problem solving, organization, perception, attention, and memory. There is difficulty in communication because of an injury to part of the brain which controls a person’s ability to think. It can result in memory issues, difficulty in listening or speaking, etc. It can be caused by biological issues like stroke, brain injury, neurological conditions, or issues with brain development.

  • Aphasia

This is an acquired disorder of communication that impacts a person’s ability to speak and understand others. It often impacts the ability of a person to read and write. The most common cause of this disorder is a stroke, though it can be caused by other brain disorders.

  • Dysarthria

This condition features slurred or slow speech because of a weakness or incapacity to control muscles used for speech. It is typically caused by disorders of the nervous system and conditions causing weakness of tongue or throat or facial paralysis such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis), stroke, etc.

Feeding Disorders:

Such disorders, also called Dysphagia, are problems in eating and drinking. These include problems in chewing, swallowing, coughing, etc.

Role of SLPs

SLPs are educated in the study of communication between humans, their disorders, and their pace of development. It is the job of the SLP to evaluate the language, speech, oral/feeding, and cognitive-communication skills. By this, they can identify any problems and prescribe treatment for them.

SLPs usually have a Master’s degree in the field and certification or license for the same. In speech therapy, an SLP works with a child either in a group or classroom or one-to-one. SLPs may even offer private speech therapy.

SLPs use many strategies like the following:

  • Intervention activities in language

The SLP will interact with a child by talking, playing, using objects, books, and pictures to stimulate the development of language. The therapist may model proper grammar and vocabulary and make use of repetitive exercises to build skills of language.

  • Articulation therapy

In this therapy, the SLP indulges in sound production and articulation exercises by which they model accurate syllables and sounds in sentences and words for children, mostly during play activities.

The degree of play is customised as per the age and the specific needs of the child. The SLP will make the child familiar with how to make certain sounds like the sound of ‘r’ and may indicate the different ways of moving the tongue to produce certain sounds.

  • Swallowing therapy

SLP may use various oral exercises such as facial massage and jaw, lip, and tongue exercises to strengthen the mouth muscles to eat, drink, and swallow. The SLP may even introduce the child to various temperatures and textures of food items to enhance oral awareness during swallowing and eating.

  • Involve parents/ family

SLPs will offer homework and strategies for the child and his or her caregivers on how to resume speech therapy at home.

Speech therapy for adults

For adults, speech therapy begins with an evaluation to determine the requirements of patients and the ideal treatment for them. Exercises of speech therapy can help adults with cognitive-communication, language, and speech and is often carried out as private speech therapy.

Therapy may include retraining for swallowing function if there is an injury or medical condition like Oral cancer or Parkinson’s disease, which causes problems with swallowing.

Treatment may involve exercises like:

  • Activities to boost cognitive skills like memory and problem solving
  • Tactics in conversation to enhance social communication
  • Exercises in breathing to improve resonance
  • Activities to strengthen oral muscles.

Resources for therapy at home

  • Workbooks
  • Speech therapy apps
  • Toys and games for language development

In sum, these are the main aspects regarding speech and language therapy in London.