Communication is a big part of everyone’s life, no matter what the age. It’s something that adults take for granted when speaking properly is an expected ability for anyone at that stage in life.
While many speech pathologists specialize in pediatric speech therapy, there are those that also focus on adults. They provide speech and language assistance for working professionals, adults recovering from brain trauma or stroke, and senior adults with growing communication challenges.
Let’s discuss the many ways that speech therapy can help adults.
Why Do Adults Need Speech Therapy?
Speech therapists are often thought to only help kids with learning and speech disabilities. But as it turns out, a wide variety of areas in an adult life can also improve with speech therapy even beyond their childhood years.
One of the reasons is that some adults may still have trouble with certain words. They may have carried over some unaddressed speech or language disorders from when they were children. Others require therapy for chronic disorders like Parkinson’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) or multiple sclerosis.
Another reason is that someone may incur or develop a disorder only later in life. For example, this person may encounter a stroke or brain injury. Speech therapists can help them recover their cognitive abilities as well as their speech and language skills.
Speech therapy can also benefit senior adults. They may need to retrain their cognition and ability to communicate effectively, especially in cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Aging adults may also experience some swallowing difficulty, causing choking or other incidents. Speech therapists can help keep those eating and drinking activities safe.
Overall, SLPs are able to help adults with various communication difficulties. Here are some fields of speech therapy that may help you:
Articulation or Fluency (ex. Stuttering, Dysarthria)
Therapy that focuses on articulation and speech clarity may help if you have trouble pronouncing certain speech sounds or speaking clearly.
Therapy could also focus on stuttering. Adults that experience stuttering can participate in therapy to improve their fluency and help them speak more confidently.
The goal of voice therapy is often to improve the tone, volume or pitch of a person’s voice. It’s also possible to modify learned accents overtime to reduce a non-native accent.
Some use voice therapy to be more comfortable with their voice on a personal level, while professionals (singers, for example) use it to better regulate their voice. Accent therapy may benefit people with voice or phone-centric jobs when they need to be proficient with specific accents that are not native to them.
Coaching and therapy can also help you if you want to improve your speech skills when talking at work. Professional coaching sessions can also help you be better at speaking, especially in presentation settings.
A speech therapist may even help you speak more confidently at work, whether it’s speaking to clients or chatting with colleagues.
Cognitive-communication therapy supports someone’s memory and ability to problem solve. It can also work on improving someone’s focus and attention. These skills are essential in keeping a conversation flowing.
Communication is a social activity that some may have trouble with. Social communication therapy will help you improve when talking with others.
Practicing social communication can help you be a more effective conversationalist. It may also resolve any discomfort or trouble experienced when talking to other people, or talking in groups.
Swallowing therapy can help someone experiencing oral muscle atrophy (weakening muscles). It may occur due to a progressive neurological disorder (ex: Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia), or through brain injuries.
Therapy can help by exercising oral muscles, offering suggestions on how eating and drinking can be easier (food choices) or even presenting alternative food intake methods.
Stroke and Speech Recovery (Aphasia)
Strokes and brain injury may also affect someone’s language processing skills, resulting in aphasia.
Therapy can help recover lost speech and language skills. They can also assist with getting people back to communicating more effectively again after an incident.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (or AAC) tools can help someone with a speech disorder use other ways to communicate. Using AAC will help them communicate in a different way and socialize sooner.
Speech therapists can provide training for AAC to both the person using it, and the family and friends that take care of them.
How Does Speech Therapy for Adults Work?
Same as with child therapy, an adult’s speech therapy starts with an assessment. A speech therapist or SLP will conduct a few tests to see what type of support the adult might need. It may depend on your situation, therapy type and possible disorder. The results allow the SLP to set goals based on your priorities and build a personalized plan specifically for you.
After some sessions and time, your speech therapist will do another evaluation. This time it will be based on your progress to create new goals and plans. This reevaluation process helps keep the exercises and speech techniques up to date.
Ultimately, the goal is to transfer the skills learned from therapy to daily life. Which is why regular practice outside of therapy is also part of the treatments or programs.
Options for Speech Therapy Delivery
For when and where you receive therapy, you have a few choices. While in-clinic is a possible option, virtual speech therapy is also available to you as much as it is for children.
Most in-clinic hours may occur in the daytime, which is when people go to work. Online therapy is more flexible, allowing employed adults to get speech therapy when they are free outside work hours. It also eliminates the extra commute, perfect for adults that may need extra care during transport (stroke patients or elderly, for example).
Speech therapy is not exclusive to children. Adults can also find benefits in bettering or recovering the way they communicate. If you’re concerned for a loved one who’s having speech problems, reach out to a speech therapist.
Apheleia offers speech therapy for adults with aphasia. You may book a free consultation below to learn more about recovering speech after a stroke or brain injury.