Functional speech disorders are some of the several speech sound disorders that may occur in childhood. They may persist into adulthood. Children with functional speech disorders have difficulty learning to make specific speech sounds.
A functional speech disorder is sometimes called an “articulation disorder”, “articulation problem” or a “functional articulation disorder”. It differs from a phonological disorder, and the exact cause for this disorder is not known.
Even though the precise causes for speech disorders are not known, professionals do know that anatomical, environmental and linguistic factors, intermittent hearing issues and other health interruptions in a child’s life can negatively affect their speech acquisition.
Assessing the Need for Speech Therapy
Speech pathology therapy is based on an ongoing, individual assessment of your communication skills, or that of your child. Your therapist will screen the areas of communicative function, including fluency, language, speech and voice, and will do an in-depth assessment of a child’s areas of difficulty. Assessments may include standardised tests, non-standardised tests and clinical observations.
You will be informed by your therapist what the exact problem is, you can discuss the severity and extent of this problem, then explore treatment options.
Planning for Therapy
Your speech therapist will propose a plan for treatment that he or she feels will work the best for you, and that is theoretically sound and based on solid evidence. Depending on the severity of your problem, or that of your child, your therapist can predict accurately an approximate time frame within which the problem will likely be solved. Some children and adults do require more therapy.
What Is the Prognosis for People with Speech Disorders?
Your therapist will give you a prognosis, which is basically a prediction about the therapy’s most likely outcome. You may not receive a concrete prognosis right after you learn the diagnosis. In these cases, your therapist will wait a time until they have had several treatment sessions with you or your child, and have made sure that supervised home practice is taking place.
For years, speech pathologists have been quite successful in treating people who have functional speech disorders by the use of scientific approaches and articulation therapy.
Intervention for Adults
If speech disorders were not successfully treated when you were younger, they may have persisted into your adulthood. You may have trouble pronouncing just a few sounds.
Using speech pathology, your therapist can help you to overcome the disorders. In this way, you can achieve “standard” speech of the sounds you previously had trouble pronouncing.
Speech Homework for Children
Therapists believe that appropriate, supervised homework will expedite the gains brought about by therapy. Supervised in this case means that the tasks were devised by a clinician specifically for your child.
Homework will build on your child’s previous sessions. Progress will vary with each child, since each child is different. This is why a therapist will not normally hand out intervention plans for administration without supervision.
A home program that is well explained can be administered by parents or other responsible adults. When a child is using home programs like these, it is most beneficial for the speech therapist to review their progress and give guidance on an ongoing basis.
Inadvisable “Do It Yourself” Speech Therapy
Even if you or your child only have a mild speech disorder, intervention by a therapist is most effective in your overcoming the problem. These are professionals who are highly trained and who possess specialised skills and knowledge with which to treat speech difficulties.
If you have questions about speech and language make an appointment to see one of our speech pathologists.