Speech therapy, which so’s? We asked Dr.ssa Visconti
Speech therapy, from the Greek word education, is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, education and reeducation of the voice, written and oral language and communication in childhood, adulthood and geriatric. To learn about the main areas of action of speech therapy, we interviewed the Dr.Dr. Mariagrazia Visconti.
When and why one turns to a speech therapist?
It is a good idea to consult the speech therapist if the child:
- Has not yet begun to speak at age 2
- Does not understand simple orders
- Does not express himself comprehensibly (3 years and older)
- Speaks using only two syllables
- Does not pronounce some phonics well or interchanges letters within the word
- Does not swallow well
- No focus
- Does not have good motor coordination
- Has difficulty writing, reading, makes spelling errors
- He has difficulty performing mathematical calculations
- Has difficulty memorizing
- Has limited language (a restricted vocabulary)
- Has difficulty concentrating
- It has difficulty learning new words
- Makes use of shortened, ungrammatical or simplified sentences
- Emits important parts in sentences
- Uses words in an incorrect order
The speech therapist will possibly recommend postponing the start of therapy after a period of insertion in kindergarten or after a particular therapy, or even after having made any specialist visits.
What are currently the most frequent communication and language disabilities in the Italian population?
Among the most common disabilities we have language delay and aphasia.
What are the most common speech disorders in children, but also in adults, rather than in the elderly? And how does the speech therapist intervene? He explains the re-educational course and duration that the patient must follow?
The most frequent language disorders in children, relate to specific language disorders (SLDs). These are children who, despite not having neurological, sensory or relational problems, have difficulty understanding and/or producing words or sentences compared to their peers. Most SLDs reduce over time but it is important to intervene on this type of problem, because language disorders tend to evolve into learning disorders.
Diagnosis cannot be made without a thorough neuropsychological and speech-language assessment, preceded by an accurate medical history, and very often in-depth medical investigations are also essential. Given the age of young patients, play plays a key role just as it is crucial that activities be repeated in the family context as well. The speech therapist chooses therefore, the strategies, context, tools and materials to produce situation where words are stimulated to their reproduction in an indirect way.
If we turn to the next age group (3-5 years old), the imitation game needs to be refined by pairing sounds with visual and proprioceptive information using a mirror. Naming minimal pairs (chicken-bollo), playing with sound bingoes that reproduce these minimal pairs, and making the pronunciation error understood. This brings the child to an understanding of correct phoneme production and assignment.
Instead, language disorders in the’adult are:
- (dysphonia) voice disorder that can involve efficiency at different levels, manifesting itself through hoarseness to the total physiological inability to make sounds. Rehabilitation treatment aims to restore proper vocal function by limiting all the superstructures that the patient has put in place to make up for a physiological function that is not made explicit. Speech therapy, using facilitating postures, visualization techniques, vowel and consonant phonics, has as its first goal to set up the correct respiratory mechanism followed by stabilizing altered parameters and verifying the acquisition of correct pneumophonic agreement.
- (aphasia) communication disorder arising in people who have already fully acquired language as a result of damage to brain structures. Rehabilitation treatment involves specific exercises with respect to the deficit found. One must take note of the patient’s true potential by providing him or her with the opportunity to communicate by enhancing the formal and functional aspects of language. Among the most common disorders in the’elderly is dementia, a clinical syndrome characterized by the loss of cognitive functions, including memory, to such an extent that it interferes with usual social and work activities. Among the various forms of dementia, we have Alzheimer’s dementia (degenerative disease of the S.N.C.) which causes the progressive and global decline of all cognitive functions. Currently, the therapeutic treatments used offer small symptomatic benefits and can partially slow the course of the condition.
Regarding the rehabilitation pathway: mental stimulation, exercise and a balanced diet have been proposed as complementary ways of managing the disease.