skip to content  >  Psychology Guide  >  Therapies  >  Speech Therapy


   Speech Therapy


Speech therapy is the treatment of speech problems and disorders. Experts in the profession of speech therapy work with children and adults whose speech interferes with communication, calls attention to itself, and frustrates both speaker and listener. These specialists, called speech therapists, evaluate and correct defective speech and teach new speech skills. The field of speech therapy is often called speech pathology, and speech therapists are sometimes known as speech-language pathologists or speech clinicians. 

Types and causes of speech defects. 

Speech therapists divide speech defects into five main types: (1) articulation problems, such as the inability to produce certain sounds; (2) stammering, cluttering (rapid, slurred speech), and other fluency problems; (3) voice disorders, including problems of pitch, voice quality, and volume; (4) delayed speech, characterized by a child's slow language development; and (5) aphasia, the partial or total loss of the ability to speak or understand language. 

Some speech defects result from a physical condition, such as brain damage, cleft palate, a disease of the larynx, or partial or complete deafness. Other speech defects may be caused by a person's environment. For example, a child who receives little encouragement to talk at home may not develop normal speech skills. Severe emotional problems, such as pressure to succeed or a lack of love, can also lead to speech difficulties. 


In many schools, speech therapists test students regularly for speech disorders. If students have a speech problem, they receive therapy at the school, or they go to a speech clinic for treatment. Many doctors, psychologists, and teachers refer people with speech defects to such clinics. 

Speech therapists diagnose their patients' speech problems and try to learn their causes. They take detailed case histories and give their patients special speech and hearing tests. A patient may need medical or psychological treatment in addition to speech therapy. 


The speech therapist first gains the confidence of the patient. For the best results, the individual should enjoy being with the therapist and want to follow instructions. 

The method of treatment varies from case to case. The speech therapist must consider the age of the patient, the case history, the type of speech disorder, and the information gained during therapy. The therapist talks to the patient's family, teachers, and others who have close contact. The success of the treatment depends largely on gaining the cooperation of these individuals. 

Most children develop speech habits until about the age of 8. Thus, when working with a young patient, the therapist uses methods that help stimulate the development of good speech habits. With older patients, the therapist must use corrective measures. First, the patients must be helped to identify their speech problems and to tell the difference between their speech and normal speech. 

Many therapists use audio and video recording machines. Patients who mispronounce the "r" sound may be able to identify their error by listening to themselves on a tape recorder and by watching the movement of their lips and tongue on a video screen. The therapist pronounces the sound correctly, and the patient hears and sees the difference. 

During the second stage of treatment, the therapist teaches the patient new speech skills. Tongue exercises and speech drills may be used. After the patients have improved their speech, they learn to use their skills in everyday situations. 

Speech therapy may be given individually or in groups. Therapists put patients in groups if they think that contact with people who have similar defects will bring rapid improvement. Many persons feel more at home and less self-conscious in a group than when alone with a therapist. They also receive encouragement by listening to others and by hearing the improvement of members of the group. Most patients with complex speech problems, such as aphasia, receive individual therapy. Speech specialists feel that individual attention in such cases achieves faster results than does group therapy. Some patients attend both individual and group sessions. 


People have studied speech and speech problems for more than 2,000 years. However, little progress in the treatment of speech defects occurred until the 1700's and 1800's. During the 1700's, speech specialists worked mostly with the deaf. Successful teachers of the deaf included Thomas Braidwood, a Scottish mathematician. Braidwood taught his students to talk by starting with simple sounds and then progressing to syllables and, finally, words. The 1800's brought much research into the causes and treatment of stuttering. In 1817, Jean Marie Itard, a French doctor, declared that stuttering resulted from a weakness of the tongue and larynx nerves. He recommended exercises to cure stutterers. During the late 1800's, Adolf Kussmaul, a German doctor, wrote about the physical and psychological causes of stuttering. Today, speech therapists agree that there is no single cause. 

Speech therapy became a profession in the early 1900's. In Europe, it was associated with the medical profession. During the 1920's, schools for training speech therapists opened in several European countries. In the United States, speech therapy became closely allied with education, psychology, and speech. 

During World War II (1939-1945), many servicemen developed speech defects as a result of war injuries. The need for speech rehabilitation services attracted large numbers of men and women to the profession of speech therapy. Many speech clinics opened, and research increased into speech problems and their causes. Since the end of World War II, the field of speech therapy has expanded rapidly.



Bookmark this page

  • Bookmark to: Mr. Wong Bookmark to: Oneview Bookmark to: Linkarena Bookmark to: Folkd Bookmark to: Digg Bookmark to: Bookmark to: Facebook Bookmark to: Reddit Bookmark to: Jumptags Bookmark to: Simpy Bookmark to: StumbleUpon Bookmark to: Slashdot Bookmark to: Propeller Bookmark to: Furl Bookmark to: Yahoo Bookmark to: Spurl Bookmark to: Google Bookmark to: Blinklist Bookmark to: Blogmarks Bookmark to: Diigo Bookmark to: Technorati Bookmark to: Newsvine Bookmark to: Blinkbits Bookmark to: Ma.Gnolia Bookmark to: Smarking Bookmark to: Netvouz


Share |