2020 Apr 23
Even though communication is key for our survival, some of us struggle with it and are hampered by a lack of it for various reasons.
Here is a profession which will help those who have lost their ability to speak to voice their feelings. Speech and Language therapy is still a novel subject to Sri Lankans. A Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) or a Speech-Language Therapist (SLT) is a medical service provider who can help a child, teenager or even an adult who undergoes some form of inability in speaking.
According to the Department of Census and Statistics Sri Lanka (2012), 1.6 million persons aged 5 and above have been identified to be undergoing some kind of disability. Out of this 1.6 million, 900,000 are affected with communication, cognition or hearing difficulty. This shows that there are over 1 million people out there in Sri Lanka who need assistance from a Speech and Language Pathologist/Therapist.
A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) will be of assistance to anyone who falls under the below-mentioned categories:
Infants: facing injuries due to complications at birth, including genetic disorders that adversely affect speech, language and/or cognitive development including Cleft Lip and Pallate, Down syndrome, Hearing impairment.
Children: who fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Global Development Delay, Apraxia, Speech and Language Delay, specific difficulties in producing sounds called Articulation disorders (Ex: Tar for car), Cerebral palsy (CP), Learning difficulties, Dyslexia, Auditory processing disorder, Auditory neuropathy etc.
Adults patients who have speech and language difficulties as they went through a stroke (Aphasia), Dysarthria, naming difficulties (Anomia), Feeding and swallowing difficulties (Dysphagia), Cranial nerve damage that effect communication, Laryngectomies (full or partial removal of the larynx).
It is an SLPs or an SLTs duty to assist adults with Progressive neurological conditions such as Motor neuron diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Huntington’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease etc.
An SLT/SLP does not prescribe medicine. However, a speech therapist can identify, assess and evaluate a person’s (child or an adult) condition and treat them with specific therapy techniques. The speech therapy depends on the level of severity of the communication disorder. However, a speech therapist or a pathologist will be well equipped to support any individual and develop their speech in a proficient manner. For improving speech, a therapist could use goal-based therapy, AAC or picture communication techniques, behavioural modification, language stimulation techniques, play therapy, etc.
If your child or any of your loved ones is finding it hard to speak, you could refer them to a professional SLT/SLP. This is something you shouldn’t feel ashamed about, just like obtaining treatment for a sickness from a medical doctor, it is essential to obtain assistance from a qualified speech therapist/pathologist in this regard. It is a proven fact that early intervention could give better long-term outcomes.
Therefore, if your child or a loved one is affected with a communication disorder, you can find more information on www.speechandhearing.lk which would help assist you in taking the first step to acquiring proper patterns of communication.