My speech is fine! Why do I need a Speech Therapist?
Why do I need a speech therapist?
Why would someone need to go to speech therapy when they have no problem speaking? Many individuals don’t realize that Speech-Language Pathologists can focus on and support people in so many more ways than simply the act of talking. They can work with someone on any skill that can be identified as some form of communication. Communication involves both incoming information (reading and listening) and outgoing information (writing and speaking), as well as the underlying cognitive skills required to successfully receive information, understand it, and then respond. The following areas are a few of the underlying fundamental cognitive skills necessary for successful and efficient communication.
It all starts with attention. If a person cannot pay attention to the information coming at them, or to their own thoughts, they will experience a major challenge right from the beginning of the communication process. Children with attention deficit disorder or some individuals with brain injury struggle with this necessary first step in communication and are often labeled as “not listening”. The truth is that while it may appear that they are not paying attention, they are actually paying attention to everything! They are often overstimulated by the environment and/or distracted by competing information. Speech-Language Pathologists can facilitate improved attentional skills as they relate to the communication process.
Information Processing and Comprehension
The next main step in communication is taking information in and understanding what it means. When a person experiences challenges at this stage of the communication process they may appear to be reading or listening without any difficulty, but cannot comprehend the text or what is being said to them. An individual may struggle to identify the gist or main point, and/or they might miss important details, leading to miscommunication and confusion for both the person and his or her communication partner. Speech-Language Pathologists can support a client by breaking down this complex process, figuring out exactly which areas and types of information are creating challenges, and selecting treatment tasks to build processing skills and improve comprehension.
Another primary component of communication is to store information for later retrieval. If a person cannot remember what they just saw, read, heard, or cannot recall the words they want to use, then communication breakdowns are going to occur. Memory problems can arise while someone is putting their thoughts together, be experienced almost immediately after an individual is presented with information, or develop over the passage of time. Regardless of the situation, struggling to remember what one has been told or wants to say can be very frustrating. Speech-Language Pathologists can help a client experiencing difficulties with memory through practice or drill-type tasks, or through the development and use of compensatory strategies aimed at minimizing the negative impact memory deficits can have on effective communication.
Communication and More
Speech-Language Pathologists can help with a wide range of challenges beyond speaking. They can identify delays or impairments and develop goals to address cognitive-communication skills including attention, information processing, comprehension, and memory. There are also other areas within the scope of speech-language pathology which some people may also not associate with ‘speech’ and ‘speaking’, such as; reasoning, problem solving, inferencing, and executive functions such as planning and organizing, as well as social communication swallowing problems
Amanda Brown is a Speech-Language Pathologist with nearly a decade of experience in providing assessment and treatment to clients in the clinic and community settings. Amanda enjoys working with clients of all ages and applies a strong client-centred approach to her therapy, balanced with family/team collaboration.