Speech therapy is a treatment program for speech and/or language problems. These problems may include issues with articulation, fluency, resonance and limited vocabulary. Articulation problems involve the incorrect pronunciation of words, while fluency issues arise from stuttering, repeating sounds or elongating syllables. Resonance disorders are those related to pitch, volume and voice quality. Speech therapy activities can treat all of these problems and more, which are present in both adults who have had a stroke or brain damage and children who are slow at picking up on speech patterns.
Pediatric speech therapy usually involves games which will hold children’s attention and simultaneously improve their speaking skills. One activity includes the recitation of a list of items seen at a zoo or circus, which the patient must keep building on and repeating. This strengthens vocabulary, phonics and memory, as the child says the same words repeatedly and becomes more confident with each recitation. Speech therapy activities during child speech therapy may also include games of I Spy or Twenty Questions, which emphasize receptive and expressive language as well as deductive reasoning.
A few less disguised examples of speech therapy activities for children include tongue twisters and a game called Silly Songs. Tongue twisters, of course, make the patient think carefully about each word before he or she pronounces it. These reinforce articulation and the speed of speech. The speech therapist can choose tongue twisters that use language sounds the child struggles with, and a stopwatch may also be used to work specifically on speed. Silly Songs works by choosing a few songs and singing the lyrics again and again, testing memory, volume and phonics and having the patient adjust emphasis and volume.
Speech therapy techniques should be adjusted according to each patient’s progress, and the speech therapy activities will become more difficult over time as the patient becomes more confident. A patient who is starting from scratch, such as an adult attempting to recover the use of speech after a stroke, should start by working on the pronunciation of individual letters. From there, speech therapy activities should branch out to include syllables and eventually entire words. Once a patient has a renewed vocabulary of 10 to 20 words, the speech therapist should encourage the use of sentences and stories with these words using games and other speech therapy resources. The therapist who creates speech therapy activities must remember that each patient will progress at different speeds and will excel with some sounds while experiencing difficulty with others.