The 2010 movie, The King's Speech highlighted the important role that speech therapist (also known as speech-language pathologist or just speech pathologist) play. That film was based on the real life struggle that King George VI faced with stammering (also known as stuttering). He was helped greatly by his speech therapist Lionel Logue.
Speech therapy can also help those with autism or those that are recovering with strokes. In the case of children it is good that they are enrolled in speech therapy as soon as possible. It is not always feasible, but if a child is enrolled in speech therapy with in their first three years it will be less likely that they will have to be re-taught learning patterns.
There are numerous benefits of speech therapy, but we will consider just three of them:
- Intelligible speech which is clearly understood by others
- Improved swallowing function and safety
- Greater self-esteem
Now we will consider these one at a time.
Intelligible Speech Which Is Clearly Understood By Others
One of the most frustrating aspects of having a speech disorder is the feeling that no one understands you. This can contribute to low self-esteem. This can also lead to an individual being withdrawn and choosing not to talk.
An experienced speech therapist will be able to identify the specific speech issues and they will be able to personalize their teaching methods according to the individual.
Improved Swallowing Function and Safety
Speech-language pathologists also help with those that have feeding and swallowing disorders. Feeding disorders can include having issues with gathering food and being able to adequately chew. For example if a child (or possibly an adult stroke victim) is unable to get the food to their mouth or are unable to completely close their lips to keep food from falling from their mouth they may need the help of a Speech-language pathologist.
Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia can occur at three different stages:
- Oral phase: This would include chewing and sucking.
- Pharyngeal phase: This involves the initial stages of swallowing. Being able to properly squeeze the food down the throat and to close the airways prevents choking.
- Esophageal phase: This involves the relaxing of the openings at the top and bottom of the esophagus (feeding tube in the throat) and squeezing the food through the esophagus into the stomach.
Because of the obvious dangers if there is concerns about a swallowing and feeding disorder it would be good to get that diagnosed by a family doctor and see if you (or your child) can be referred to a speech therapist.
One of the potential negative by products of having a speech disorder is the potential for lower self-esteem. When individuals are unable to communicate effectively there is the potential that they may become withdrawn. Especially with children there is the potential that they may be made fun of or bullied.
Speech therapy helps to increase self-esteem. One reason why is when we see the results of our hard work we develop a sense of pride in our accomplishment.
Speech therapists also do much to increase self-esteem through positive reinforcement. If the patient is a child, speech therapist will quite often reward them for their hard work. This can be done through stickers, pencils, small toys, etc...
Speech therapy worked for King George VI and it can work for you or your child.