Speech Therapists can help Children During Their Developmental Years

Early detection of any communication impairment in a child is critical. The ability to communicate is essential to learning during their developmental years.

Child speakingIf you suspect your child may have a delay in communication development, an evaluation will provide valuable information. It is never too early to have your child evaluated. For children as young as 12-15 months, an evaluation can ease concerns and provide a base-line for follow-up visits to ensure continued progress.

These are just a few issues that parents may recognize their children are experiencing.

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A Speech Therapist Should Be Consulted If Tongue Thrust is a Concern

When a tongue thrust in a child is recognized by a Pediatrician, Orthodontist or Dentist,  a Speech Therapist should be included in the assessment and treatment. A Speech Language Therapist can assess the root cause and assist in altering the behavior causing the problem.

Child with tongue thrustAs Maria Del Duca states in her guest post on Smart Speech Therapy “A tongue thrust occurs when one’s tongue is pushed against or between the front teeth during a swallow.  This should not be confused with a frontal lisp.”

A frontal lisp occurs when the tongue protrudes between the front teeth and the air-flow is directed forwards. A tongue thrust occurs during the swallowing process. So, the objective when treating a tongue thrust is to develop appropriate behavior for tongue placement during the swallowing process; and also when eating or even at rest. However, a lisp can develop if the tongue thrust is not corrected because the teeth structure can be altered by this unnatural swallowing behavior.

There are different types of swallowing dysfunctions, also referred to as Dysphagia. This comes from the fact that there are different phases of the swallowing process. One is the oral phase which is the part of the process that occurs in the mouth, called the Buccal phase. Another phase is in the throat called the pharyngeal phase. And then the esophagus, called the esophageal phase. A child with tongue thrust will have difficulty during the oral phase (Buccal phase) of the swallowing process.

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How Can the Cause for Vocal Fry be Determined

Vocal Fry is a new trend in speech behavior, primarily among woman. The term ‘Vocal Fry’ stems from the fact that the oral sound is something like the sound of oil frying. Actually, Vocal fry is a low staccato vibration produced by a slow fluttering of the vocal chords.

This is a Vocal Fry Audio example

college girsl speaking in vocal fryIt has typically been a symptom of a voice disorder and not common. For instance, classically-trained singers know a lot about vocal fry because it is something they diligently try to fix if they are experiencing this speech disorder. However, Dr. Reena Gupta has found “relatively normal looking vocal cords” in young woman with this speech behavior.  The majority of women in college may now be using vocal fry in their regular everyday language, according to a recent study.

There are many theories as to why this trend is occurring in such a large demographic. One theory is young woman in college want to sound more forceful as they prepare to enter their careers. Vocal Fry may be an unconscious emulation of the way a man is perceived to sound in a leadership role. Another theory is that the young lady is merely copying the way pop stars speak, such as Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian.

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Speech Language Pathologist Can Aid in Reduction of a Foreign Accent

Individuals that have learned English as a second language may recognize the need for assistance pronouncing words in a more understandable manner. This need may occur even if an adult has been an English speaker for many years. The person may recognize the need to improve communication skills to enhance their public speaking or interpersonal communication skills.

Public Speaking Accent FreeA foreign language speaker wanting to improve their pronunciation can enter a classroom setting for ESL (English as a Second Language). This approach generally uses the method of listening to words pronounced correctly and then imitating that sound. Unfortunately, many people are unable to ‘imitate’ sounds, although they think they are saying a word correctly. However, the person can also reach out to a Speech Language Pathologist.

A Speech Pathologist is able to assist a bilingual adult that is seeking improved communication abilities, even though this problem is not considered a speech disorder. The need to improve an accent is considered a speech modification in Speech Language Pathology. A Speech Pathologist teaches the person ‘how’ to produce the sound…where to place the tongue and how to shape the lips so that the word is intelligible. For example, foreigner speakers often pronounce the words ‘cup’, ‘cop,’ and ‘cap’ the same way. There are subtle differences in tongue placement and duration of sound that change the word.

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