For many people, speaking in public is terrifying but speaking to a single person or small group of people is not frightening at all. For others, due to a disease, an injury or for some other cause, speaking to anyone might be just as frightening as speaking to a huge group is to most people.
People with speech disorders often struggle in social situations and have a greatly reduced quality of life, sometimes because of a condition that can be treated with the help of the speech pathologist.
What they do
Speech pathologists specialise in more than speech, though the name makes the discipline seem a bit restrictive. In addition to speech, they also work with issues related to oral motor skills, cognitive linguistic issues and other problems that greatly affect their patient’s lives.
These pathologists work directly with the patient to find ways that they can help to alleviate their issues. This means that the patient is getting tailored therapy that addresses issues specific to them, rather than a generic therapy that may or may not be beneficial. Speech pathologists go to great pains to make sure that the patients benefit from the course of therapy that the pathologist recommends.
Conditions they treat
There are many different reasons that somebody might have trouble with their oral motor skills. In some cases, the problems arise from throat or oral cancer that was treated successfully, but that left damage in its wake. For example, some people who have had throat cancer successfully treated may have a very raspy, harsh voice that makes them a bit insecure about speaking to people that they don’t know.
A speech pathologist will work with such individuals to help them regain a voice that gives them confidence. They can help with more than this, however. Some of the same conditions and injuries that end up causing trouble with speech also cause trouble with swallowing, breathing and so forth. Neurological conditions can also lead to issues and speech pathologists can help people who suffer from these conditions and who want to regain their ability to speak properly.
Not everyone is going to get their original voice back and, in fact, people who have suffered a great deal of damage to their throat or mouth are likely to always have somewhat of an altered voice. Getting the confidence back that comes with being able to speak clearly and intelligibly, however, can mean a lot to people and help them to re-establish themselves socially and, of course, to simply be better understood.
Who else might be involved
People with speech issues quite frequently have accompanying hearing issues. In such cases, the speech pathologist may work with an audiologist so that they can both combine their knowledge and skills to come up with an effective treatment for the patient. By having hearing problems addressed, the patient can hear speech better and, possibly, hear their own voice better, which can help them speak more clearly. By having their speech issues addressed, the patient can be sure they are not only heard, but understood.
Whether people are young or old, difficulty speaking can create a great many issues socially. It’s important to try to address these issues and, in many cases, a speech pathologist may be able to isolate issues, devise a way to treat those issues and, in doing so, help the person to finally feel confident about their voice and to be understood by the people they speak to. It can be a long road for patients who have severe speech and oral motor skill issues, but it is certainly worth the effort to have one’s voice back.