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Call us: +1 306-382-2939 | info@nomadtherapies.ca

Speech Skills In Adults

As an adult, how can a speech therapist help me or my loved one?  

Many people are aware of help for children but are unfamiliar with adult services.

Speech and language difficulties for adults can arise suddenly or over a long period.

Recent or Acute Concerns

These are problems that can arise fairly suddenly any time in adult life.  There are many causes of acute speech or language problems.

  • Stroke or head injury can cause a sudden loss of speech or difficulty understanding language
  • Early stages of multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s, ALS is a good time to prevent or consider possible future changes to the voice, speech clarity, or feeding skills.
  • Sudden hearing loss can affect understanding of words and environmental sounds.  Put early strategies in place to prevent more serious challenges.
  • Changes in voice due to illness or surgery can be minimized.
  • Feeding difficulties require careful management to prevent more serious medical issues.

Medical attention should be your immediate priority.  Within a few days or weeks of the speech problem, the next step would be early involvement by the hospital or clinic speech-language pathologist (SLP).  Get an evaluation then work with the SLP on short term and long term planning.  If a speech-language pathologist is not available early on within the health care system, contact an SLP in private practice.  Start with a one time consult from and experienced SLP to evaluate the best way to proceed.

Long term or Chronic Concerns

Speech and language challenges from childhood can continue into adult life.  These can be mild or severe communication impairments.  The focus is to maintain what has worked in the past and improve skills to make life functional and reduce stress.

  • Stuttering or disfluency:  There are maintenance programs to keep the stuttering to a minimum or hardly noticeable.
  • Learning or language disabilities:  Accommodations can be made in training programs or in the workplace.  Tutorial programs are also available.
  • Speech Clarity:  Some people want to improve sound pronunciation or reduce an accent when they find others cannot understand their speech in everyday conversations.
  • Developmental disorders (e.g. autism, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder): There are many years in adult life to improve on speech and language skills.  Speech and language challenges that resulted from an early developmental disorder can continue to show mild to severe challenges.  To keep stress low, functional communication skills can be improved in social and workplace situations.
  • Motor movement disorders (e.g. cerebral palsy): When speech is much too difficult to understand, a well maintained up to date augmentative communication system that is easy to operate, is necessary. This can be computer based and a manual speaking device.  All people with something to say, require a system that works to get their message across.
  • Hearing loss over a long period may contribute to speech and language problems.  The quality of the voice, articulation of sounds, or changes in sentence structure may be affected.  Missing information due to hearing loss is a major concern.
  • Voice disorders sometimes occur following over use of voice and may result in a soft, hoarse, or raspy quality that never seem to go away.

If speech therapy is needed, often the first step prior to a speech therapy is a hearing check or an evaluation by an audiologist.   An experienced speech-language pathologist can provide a hearing check or send you to an audiologist.  Following the hearing check you can determine how to get started.

Remember, a one time evaluation is the best way to determine your individual needs.