Many people with speech impairments have experienced great improvement thanks to the work of a speech therapist. However, not everyone knows at the outset what these professionals are dedicated to.
Let’s find out what are the functions of speech therapists, The main questions they face on a daily basis, what abnormalities they can resolve and what benefits a person can gain from implementing any of these therapies.
Features of speech therapy or language therapy
Know the main functions of speech therapists the first thing we need to be clear about is what this profession consists of. A speech therapist is a professional in everything related to speech and communication, as well as hearing but also the associated behaviors in which the oral area is involved, such as swallowing, chewing or simply breathing, because due to an alteration, they can be linked. the pathology in question.
The problems addressed by speech therapists are very diverse in nature. Some result from a problematic birth, others are associated with syndromes, either genetic, such as Down syndrome and certain orphan diseases, or developmental, such as Asperger’s disease or autism. In other cases, the pathology arises from other cases and simply the child (or the adult) develops certain difficulties in using the language, in its oral or written form.
But also anticipated problems in speech therapy those that involve difficulties in the use of logical and mathematical reasoning. Of course, speech and speech difficulties also reach adulthood, with degenerative diseases such as sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, among others. Likewise, damage to certain areas of the brain, whether due to trauma or other causes, can also lead to communication disorders.
What are the main functions of speech therapists?
Once we know what this profession consists of, we can now focus on the main functions of speech therapists, to continue to deepen and discover in detail the main tasks to which they pay attention during their therapeutic processes.
1. Intervention in stuttering problems
Probably the first communication disorder that comes to mind when we think of speech therapy. Stuttering is a constant interruption of speech, which the subject performs involuntarily, which causes the constant repetition of different syllables. This symptom is accompanied by muscle tension throughout the maxillofacial area, and also by an important psychological component which consists mainly of anxiety and fear of speaking.
One of the main functions of speech therapists would therefore be the treatment of stuttering, which usually requires a long process by performing a series of exercises constantly, but where the parents and those around the child have a very heavy weight, because it is essential. give him the necessary confidence and all the time he needs, without correcting himself, to express himself and be able to improve gradually.
2. Modulation and pronunciation learning
It is also very common for speech-language pathologists to encounter cases of people who have problems with correct modulation of their voice or with the pronunciation of specific phonemes, Being very frequent that of / rr /. As with stuttering, the difficulty in pronouncing means that the person who suffers from it also experiences the stress that the situation causes him, so we must not forget the psychological damage that he suffers.
Applying corrective treatments to obtain a partial or total improvement in the pronunciation of certain sounds or to learn to modulate the voice correctly would be another of the main functions of speech therapists. To do this, they have a series of techniques that adapt to the subject, and which help them very systematically to find the improvement they are looking for in order to forget their problems to pronounce.
3. Therapy to overcome voice problems
Difficulties can also arise from the voice itself in the form of problems with sound emitting, or alterations in the physical structures necessary to emit this action, such as the larynx or vocal cords, or other problems that may be psychological type. In any case, another of the main functions of speech therapists is collaborate with these people little by little, and as far as possible, achieve better speaking skills.
Logically, in the event of deterioration or physical alteration, the improvements could be only partial, insofar as the state of the various organic components of the subject affected by this pathology allows it. In all cases, the speech therapist, thanks to his knowledge and experience, will support him in the process and help him as much as possible in the search for this learning.
4. Training in comprehension tasks
But not all communication problems stem from mechanical factors or the voice. Difficulties can also be found in one’s own understanding of the language. We would speak, for example, of aphasia of the sensory type (language disorders), such as Wenicke’s aphasia, which is caused by lesions in this area of the brain. This type of pathology generates problems of comprehension but sometimes also of mastery of the language.
It will therefore be one of the main functions of speech-language pathologists to provide their services to these patients, although when it comes to brain damage, treatment can be very slow and improvements limitedIt is therefore necessary to combine it with other types of techniques behind to achieve the greatest possible effect, when combining therapies.
5. Therapy for swallowing difficulties
An example of a speech-related problem that directly affects the development of this behavior would be difficulty swallowing. This pathology can be caused by physical or psychological problems, it would cause problems during the transmission of speech, therefore its treatment is also one of the main functions of speech therapists. This disorder is known as dysphagia and affects the patient’s quality of life.It is therefore important to stop it as soon as possible.
Dysphagia can occur for a variety of reasons and can also be classified into different types depending on the part of the digestive tract where the difficulty is located. Thus, depending on the specific type of dysphagia, the treatment to be applied will be one or the other, the speech therapist being the expert who will decide on the strategy to be followed to achieve an improvement in this aspect.
Although we have seen a wide variety of casuistics regarding the main functions of speech therapists, now we will see what a typical treatment process would look like by analyzing each of its phases.
As in so many other disciplines, the first thing a speech-language pathologist should do when a patient comes to their consultation is the relevant assessment, analyze the problem from its origin, collect all the data of its history and any medical history, Study of any medical or school report, and examination of speech and related functions (swallowing, chewing, breathing, mandibular joint and others).
There will also be an assessment of the language, both spoken and written, and in terms of comprehension, to delimit the problem and to be able to apply an accurate and effective treatment. With all this information correctly collected and analyzed, we will come to another of the main functions of speech therapists, which is the issuance of a diagnosis related to speech dysfunctions.
Already with a clear diagnosis, the next step is set goals and choose the most appropriate treatment to apply in the necessary sessions for achieve the proposed improvement. The number of techniques that can be chosen for treatment is manifold and will depend on many factors: the disease diagnosed, the characteristics of the patient, the goals set and the speech therapist’s own experience.
Obviously, depending on the type of treatment applied, the procedure will take more or less time. As in so many other disciplines, each case is unique, so rigid deadlines cannot be set either, as some people experience improvement from the first sessions, while others require multiple rounds of treatment. additional to obtain the desired positive effects.
We have talked about the main functions of speech therapists, and these can be summarized in to overcome the pathologies of people with speech disorders.
It is a question of evaluating them, applying the appropriate treatment, and finally this third phase, releasing them. One type of discharge is outpatient, to inform doctors and relatives of the patient of the condition he is in and to give them instructions to continue their treatment.
The other type of discharge would be the last, The one in which the speech therapist obtained the success he was looking for and therefore the disease that led the person to the consultation, delivered it, or the objectives that had been proposed in the previous phase have been achieved and for them two end treatments.
- Buitrado, A., Morand, DS (2018). Proposal for a protocol for the evaluation of executive functions by speech therapists. Latin psychology.
- Enireb-García, MD, Jachero-Ochoa, FJ, Patiño, Vice President (2017). Speech therapy, processes and functions of human language and communication. Pole of knowledge.
- Duties of the speech therapist in a special education center
- Fitor, P., Puyuelo, M., Vicuña, I. (1979). Functions of the speech therapist in a special education center. Childhood and learning. Taylor and Francis.
- Puyuelo, M., Arias, C., Artal, M., Bonet, M., Fernández, A. (2017). Clinical cases in speech therapy. Masson.