When a person has difficulty pronouncing words, producing communication sounds, stutters, has a voice disorder, or faces difficulties in swallowing and other communication skills he or she might need speech language pathology. Speech language pathology is more commonly called speech therapy. A speech therapist (SLP) can help the patient through specific exercises performed in the clinic and at home.
If the patient is referred to speech therapy, first the SLP will evaluate the difficulties the patient is facing along with his or her concerns—or the patient’s family concerns. SLPs might see children more often than adults because developmental delays can cause problems in swallowing and communication from a young age.
Speech and swallowing functions can be quite complex. Communication involves memory along with speech—articulation, resonance, voice, respiration and phonation. The patient might also have difficulty in forming cohesive sentences, recognizing grammar rules, and social aspects of communication. Speech therapy can treat the communication and swallowing issues as well as prevent further complications in the future by laying a strong functional foundation for the patient.
Speech therapy can be provided at an outpatient therapy clinic, in the patient’s home, in a school, or a hospital. If the patient is a child with developmental delays, other healthcare providers might be involved in patient care—like occupational and physical therapists.