When those of us in Speech and Language Therapy use the word “speech,” we are referring to the motor movements and the function of the mechanism (parts of our body) we use to speak. Speech is the ability to move the muscles in the the mouth and surrounding areas in the shapes that make the sounds we need, and then combining them, in the correct order, smoothly, to form our words and sentences. Most of us speak effortlessly, every day, so it can be easy to overlook how complex the movements for speech actually are.
There are 3 main components of speech:
- Producing sound by using our breath and vocal folds. This can encompass appropriate volume, projection and resonance, or hoarseness and loss of voice.
- The flow of our speech when speaking quickly; joining sounds, words and phrases in a smooth rhythm without atypical interruption.
Speech is a fine motor skill involving slight, graceful and delicate movements of muscles from our diaphragm up to our lips. It requires support from our core, controlled breath, and fluid, coordinated movement, with all parts working together, in unison. In order to do that, we rely on our brain to send the correct signals to all of these parts, telling them what to do and when to do it. Not only is communication between our brain and our muscles essential, but it’s also necessary for us to be able to listen to ourselves and discriminate between the sounds we’re making.
Concerns in the function of this intricate system can arise from a variety of factors. For example, if your child or loved one is difficult to understand, it may be the result of his or her inability to produce speech sounds correctly, which points to potential concerns with the Articulation part of speech. If you notice interruptions in the flow of speech (e.g. repeated words or syllables, long pauses, or an inability to get words out in the midst of speaking), these could be indicative of a Fluency or Stuttering concern. If your child is not speaking at all, there may be great benefit to consulting a Speech Language Pathologist to determine if the lack of Speech is due to difficulty with learning how to produce speech sounds or if it is rooted in the understanding and use of Language.
Many developmental diagnoses such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy can also affect an individual’s ability to speak or the quality of their speech. Speech concerns can also arise as the result of traumatic brain injury, stroke, or disorders of the nervous system as Parkinson’s Disease and ALS. It is important to note that concerns with the quality and ability of speech can range from mild to severe. Even mild forms of speech concerns can benefit greatly from Speech Therapy.
- Articulation and Pronunciation
- Motor Speech (i.e., apraxia, dysarthria)
- Adult Stuttering
- Voice & Resonance (i.e., vocal fatigue, hoarse voice, throat tension, vocal nodules/polyps, cleft lip/palate)
- Aphasia – language and memory loss due to stroke
- Aural Rehabilition – addressing hearing loss, developing listening skills, orientation to hearing aids)
- Adolescent & Adult Cochlear Implantation & Auditory-Verbal Therapy
Does your child have difficulty with any of the following:
- Saying various speech sounds?
- Organizing words into sentences?
- Understanding and following directions?
- Recalling or retelling stories or events?
- Remaining on topic?
- Reading and writing?
- Making friends and socializing with peers?
- Using appropriate vocabulary and knowing the correct words to label and describe various objects?
If you have concerns about your child’s speech one of our Registered Speech Language Pathologists (S-LP) can perform an Assessment to determine the specific areas of difficulty and how best to support your child. Once an S-LP has set goals for your child, one of our team of Registered S-LPs or Communicative Disorders Assistants (CDAs) can work with your child to strengthen their ability to communicate effectively.
S-LPs and CDAs are trained in a wide variety of strategies to help our clients overcome barriers to Speech and Communication. Whether challenges with speech is the result of a child incorrectly pronouncing words, an individual struggling with a Stutter or difficulty with moving the muscles of the speech mechanism due to a diagnosed disorder, a Speech-Language Pathologist (S-LP) or Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) can help.
Ask yourself some questions about your loved one’s speaking ability:
- Do you or others have trouble understanding what your child is trying to say to you?
- Does your child use very few words to express his or her wants and needs?
- Does he or she appear to struggle to say new words?
- Does your child or loved one repeat words or syllables, have long pauses in their speech, or an inability to get words out in the midst of speaking?
- Is your child past the milestones of early speech, but still not speaking at all?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, come in for a free screening to determine if a full assessment is necessary and find out if therapy could help.
Call us or use the form below to schedule a free screening and allow our specialized team determine whether a Speech Assessment is warranted. Let us help you develop a treatment plan to support your child communication. There is no need for a Doctor’s referral and no waiting list, we will schedule an appointment with you as soon as possible.
Assessments and Therapy are often covered by extended benefit plans, please feel free to ask us for more information or contact your benefit provider.
Please call our office and ask to be booked for your Free Speech Screening today.
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