If your doctor refers you or your child to speech therapy, you might have several questions about your upcoming care. What does speech therapy look like? What happens during a typical speech therapy session? What sort of activities will I/my child do in speech therapy?
At Therapeutic Potentials, Inc., we welcome questions like these, and hear them often from patients and caregivers! You should know that speech therapy services vary from person to person, depending on factors like age, medical history, and individual goals and preferences. To help you get an idea of what to expect, here are five examples of speech therapy interventions you or your child may receive.
1. Facial Strengthening Exercises
Speech language pathologists (SLPs), or speech therapists, are highly trained, licensed health care providers who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of speech, language, communication, feeding, and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages. Speech therapists work closely with patients, caregivers, educators, and other health care providers to develop customized and comprehensive plans of care that help individuals improve their quality of life and independence.
For individuals struggling with things like swallowing or making certain words or sounds, speech therapists often prescribe oral and facial strengthening exercises. These exercises—such as smiling, frowning, puckering the lips, blowing bubbles, and moving the tongue in different directions—can improve the strength, coordination, and endurance of of muscles of the face, jaw, lips, and tongue.
Your speech therapist will teach you how to perform your exercises correctly so you can continue your exercise program at home, and will progress or modify your exercises as necessary.
2. Activities That Help With Language Development
Speech therapists spend a lot of time modeling the correct use of vocabulary, grammar, and language during therapy sessions. Therapists guide their patients through techniques such as word and sound repetition, reading, word games, singing, and other strategies that can improve language, speech, and communication skills.
A speech therapist may also introduce patients to augmentative and alternative communication techniques, including voice-generating apps or electronic devices and even “no-tech” interventions such as pointing, gesturing, drawing, and writing.
Since speech and language skills are essential for helping adults and children gain confidence and competence in their interpersonal relationships, speech therapists often work with patients in group or school-based settings, as well as in one-on-one sessions.
3. Manual Techniques
Manual techniques can improve the mobility, alignment, coordination, and overall function of the connective tissues involved in drinking, eating, swallowing, and speaking. Speech therapists will also incorporate manual techniques—such as massage of the face, jaw, neck, and shoulders—to enhance the beneficial effects of other speech therapy interventions.
Your speech therapist may teach you how to perform specific massage techniques on yourself or your child as part of a home program.
4. Feeding and Swallowing Therapy
Adults and children who have difficulties with eating, drinking, and swallowing are at risk for issues such as malnutrition, aspiration, and choking incidents. By offering personalized feeding and swallowing therapy, speech therapists can help patients increase their safety, independence, and overall wellness.
This type of therapy may involve things such as:
- Interventions to address the specific phases of eating
- Supervised exposure to new foods, beverages, textures, and food temperatures
- Implementation of adaptive feeding tools and utensils
- Dietary modifications, such as the use of fluid thickeners or the avoidance of certain types of food
5. Cognition and Memory Interventions
Did you know speech therapists can help people improve mental skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, and memory? Interventions that address these cognitive functions are especially helpful for individuals who are living with conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s dementia, and other neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.
In speech therapy, patients often learn tools and strategies that can help them with things like:
- Medication management
- Home safety
- Finances and bills
- Community accessibility
From lists and pictures, memory books and family training, speech therapists offer a range of evidence-based, practical solutions that will help patients feel more in control of their day-to-day lives.
Could Your or a Loved One Benefit From Speech Therapy?
At TPI, our speech therapy providers are dedicated to providing high quality care for individuals throughout Bradenton, Sarasota, and Lakewood Ranch FL. Call us now at 941-758-3140 to schedule an evaluation today.