You dream of speaking fluently, loudly, and clearly but fear it might be impossible because you didn’t start practicing early enough? These goals are entirely achievable because you can start working on your speech at any age. If you want to speak more beautifully, carefully, confidently, and healthily, it’s worth visiting a speech therapist!
On the internet, you can read many articles about when it’s worth taking a child to a speech therapist. This is because many of us associate this specialist primarily with a preschool office where a child mimics funny faces in front of a mirror.
However, a speech therapist works not only with children. In the office, we also work with adults, with anyone who wants to eliminate speech impediments, correct speech defects, expand vocabulary, and make public speaking easier. Age doesn’t matter. It’s all about time and effort.
Who should seek help from a speech therapist?
Anyone who already knows, perhaps based on previous observations by specialists, that they have incorrect articulation should seek advice from a speech therapist. If, for example, you have been diagnosed with lisping (pronunciation issues with sounds such as “sh,” “ch,” “j”) or rhotacism (pronunciation issues with the sound “r”), it’s worth consulting a speech therapist. The specialist will examine you, assess the structure of your speech organs, check which sounds are mispronounced, and develop a therapeutic plan.
Also, for individuals who have voice or phonation issues, speech therapy assistance is necessary. If you breathe laboriously, get stuck and “can’t get a word out” during a lecture, meeting, or social gathering, seeking a speech therapist’s help is valuable. The specialist will develop breathing exercises that also act as a relaxation technique, allowing you to speak and function effectively in stressful situations.
Symptoms such as frequent “blocks” during speech, stage fright before public speaking, or intense stress when you have something to say should also concern us.
A quick consultation with a specialist can also be helpful for those experiencing issues with speaking, breathing, or concentration after having COVID-19. Breath exercises and challenging linguistic puzzles can improve your concentration and memory.
A speech therapist also works with individuals who have specific neurological damage or have been diagnosed with aphasia. First, the specialist will recommend detailed examinations and tests to assess the extent and affected area of the damage. Then, they will propose exercises to stimulate the speech organs and rehabilitation to regain language proficiency.
People diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease should also seek advice from a speech therapist. These patients may also experience speech disorders that need examination and individual speech therapy.
The speech therapist will also work with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. In such individuals, abnormal articulation, difficulty pronouncing certain words, and lack of grammatical coherence are often observed.
Everyone involved in media, journalists, podcast creators – anyone needing quick and specific advice on preparing their voice for camera or microphone work should also consider visiting a speech therapist.
People who must undergo voice rehabilitation – for example, teachers, therapists – should also visit a speech therapist.
What is the first visit to a speech therapist like?
First, the specialist conducts an interview with the patient, gathering all the necessary information. For a speech therapist, a brief conversation is enough to detect initial signs of speech disorders.
Then, the specialist examines the patient – assessing, among other things, the efficiency and mobility of articulators, checking how the tongue, lips, jaw, and soft palate function. They also assess the patient’s resting breathing.
Based on the information collected, the speech therapist makes a diagnosis and devises an appropriate therapy plan. The therapist assigns specific articulation exercises for the patient to practice during subsequent visits. However, visible results will also require practice at home.
Embarking on the journey of working on speech and voice, we always learn something new about ourselves. After all, how we speak is a result of what we feel and think.