Speech and Language – Understanding and Measuring Disabilities
Speech, language and swallowing obscurities can result from a variety of causes. These causes may include some type of brain injury or trauma, delays in development or learning disorders or disabilities.
Physical deficiencies such as cleft palate, hearing loss, emotional problems and the aftermath of a stroke are also areas of expertise for these professionally-trained specialists. Speech therapists use special instruments and assessment methods to record and analyze the extent of the patient’s impairments. Only by use of such analytical tools can the speech therapist chronicle the progress of a patient and adjust treatment to fit the individual’s specific recovery needs.
How Speech Therapist can help
Each patient is under a plan of care that is tailored to fit each patient’s needs.
Say a patient has little or no speech capabilities, a speech therapist may choose to use augmentative communication methods, such as sign language, to teach their use.
If a patient has some speech and need to improve their voice or increase their oral or written language to communicate more effectively, a speech therapist can work with a plan to help accomplish those needs.
Speech therapists teach people how to strengthen muscles or use strategies to swallow without choking or without aspirating (inhaling) food items or liquids while talking.
All in all, speech therapists help patients reach their goal of developing, in some cases recovering, reliable communication and swallowing skills. Each patient will be able to fulfill vocational, educational and social roles as these goals are met.
Speech Evaluation and Assessment
A speech therapist will spend time evaluating and assessing the patient to determine what type of therapy is needed. This can be done at home, at school or in an office. The patient’s situation and mobility may control the location for treatment. Most therapists agree that the optimal setting is wherever is most comfortable for the patient.
Once the level of treatment is determined, speech therapists will select testing materials that target the individual’s disability, which often depends on the age of the patient. Because the patient may be a 3 year old toddler or a 65 year old stroke patient, no one tool will make sense in customizing a treatment plan. The certification process used by professional training schools teach a multitude of tried and tested techniques.
Speech Therapists will keep record on the initial evaluation to establish a “base line” for that patient. From that base line, the progress of the patient will be charted and tracked. Speech therapists counsel individuals and their family members on coping techniques for handling the stress of having a speech disorders. The therapists’ focus will be on how to use communication enhancing techniques at home to facilitate progress in speech therapy.
Most speech therapists will provide training and techniques to their patients via direct clinical services to those who have swallowing or communication disorders. This specialty therapy work is typically performed in conjunction with physicians, social workers, psychologists and even other therapists. Speech Therapists routinely work with schools to coordinate therapy efforts with educators and parents to develop a training curriculum for the individual in a classroom setting and to support his or her classroom activities.