A man attending a speech therapy for adults session with a physician.

Adult Speech Therapy

Speech therapy for adults, also known as adult speech-language therapy, is a specialized therapy that addresses communication and swallowing disorders in older individuals. Adult speech therapy is different from speech therapy for children.

Adult therapy focuses on communication issues often related to medical conditions, neurological disorders, or injuries. This could mean helping individuals regain speech and language skills after a stroke, managing communication difficulties due to conditions like Parkinson’s disease, or addressing speech issues following surgery or trauma. It could also mean helping adults unlearn bad habits over time.

There are several reasons why adults may seek speech therapy:

  • Speech Disorders: These may include difficulties with pronunciation, articulation, fluency, or voice quality. For example, someone might struggle with stuttering, slurred speech, or have a hoarse voice.
  • Language Disorders: This can involve difficulties with understanding or using language, including problems with grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, or expression. It can also encompass aphasia, which is a language disorder often caused by stroke.
  • Cognitive Communication Disorders: These occur when difficulties with cognitive processes like memory, attention, problem-solving, or organization, impact communication.
  • Accent Modification: Some individuals seek speech therapy to modify or reduce their accent, especially if it impacts their professional or social communication.

Here’s what you can expect from adult speech therapy:

Assessment: The therapist will conduct a comprehensive assessment to identify the specific communication or swallowing challenges you’re facing. This assessment may include interviews, standardized tests, and observations.

Individualized Treatment Plan: Based on the assessment results, the therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Techniques and Exercises: Therapy sessions may involve various exercises and techniques to improve speech, language, voice, or swallowing function. These exercises could focus on articulation, breath control, cognitive strategies, and more.

Practical Applications: The therapist may work with you on applying these techniques in real-life situations, such as during conversations or in specific professional contexts.

Technology and Tools: Depending on the situation, the therapist may employ technology or tools to aid in therapy. For example, speech-generating devices can be helpful for individuals with severe speech disorders.

Regular Progress Assessments: The therapist will periodically evaluate your progress to ensure that the therapy is effective and to make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

Home Practice: In many cases, the therapist will provide exercises or activities for you to practice at home between sessions. Consistent practice is often crucial for improvement.

Remember, each individual’s needs and progress are unique, so the therapy approach will be tailored accordingly. It’s important to work closely with a qualified speech-language pathologist who can provide the best guidance and support.

Additional Resources