Types of Speech Therapy

Different speech therapy approaches and techniques are used for various issues

Speech therapy is not one thing. There are different types of speech therapy, each of which involves approaches and techniques that are specific to the issue that needs addressing. That could be related to speech itself—e.g., therapy for people who stutter—or it could relate to problems with memory swallowing, and more.

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), often just called a speech therapist, will perform assessments to determine which type(s) of speech therapy is right for you.

This article reviews the different types of speech therapy and the various disorders each one can be used to treat.

A speech therapist helping one of her patients
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Types of Speech Therapy Used by Speech Therapists

A speech-language pathologist can use different types of speech therapy to help people with problems related to:

  • Fluency (e.g., stuttering, and cluttering)
  • Speech (e.g., articulation)
  • Language (e.g., ability; comprehension of spoken and written language)
  • Cognition (e.g., attention, memory, ability to solve problems)
  • Voice (e.g., characteristics of vocal tone)
  • Swallowing (e.g., stroke, congenital disorders)

In addition to different speech therapy techniques, SLPs may also provide auditory habilitation & auditory rehabilitation for people with hearing problems or disorders.

Some SLPs specialize in other services including professional voice development, accent or dialect modification, transgender voice therapy, business communication modification, and voice hygiene.

Speech Therapy for Late Talkers

A common speech therapy method is used to help children who have reached the expected age for speech development but have not started talking.

If your infant or toddler should be talking by now but isn't, they may be referred to a speech therapist. The therapist will likely try different things to encourage your child to talk, including playing with him. Sometimes, withholding a favorite toy until a child asks for it motivates small children to talk, but this depends on the circumstance.

For some children, other types of communication, such as sign language or picture cards, might be introduced. Speech therapists may also refer your child for further evaluation, such as hearing tests if necessary.

Speech Therapy for Kids With Apraxia

Certain speech therapy techniques are helpful for kids with apraxia.

Children with apraxia have difficulty saying certain syllables or making certain sounds. Your child knows what they want to say, but it doesn't seem to come out right. Speech therapists are qualified to evaluate children for apraxia by using several tests, including:

  • Oral-motor assessment to check for muscle weakness in the jaw, lips, or tongue
  • Melody of speech assessment during which the therapist listens to see if they can appropriately stress certain syllables and use pitch and pauses at the appropriate place in a sentence
  • Speech sound assessment further determines how well the child can pronounce sounds, including vowels, consonants, and sound combinations. This includes determining how well others are able to understand the child's conversational speech

If your child is diagnosed with apraxia, they will probably need speech therapy on a one-on-one basis several times per week. This therapy will likely consist of intensively practicing their speech. The therapist will try to help your child understand auditory feedback as well as visual or tactile cues.

One way a therapist might do this is to have your child look at themselves in a mirror while speaking, or record them speaking and then playing it back. Many children enjoy this.

Since successful treatment for apraxia involves a lot of time and commitment, your therapist may give you assignments to practice with your child at home.

Speech Therapy for Stuttering

Speech therapy techniques can be applied to help treat stuttering.

Stuttering is a problem that typically develops during childhood but can develop during adulthood as well. Stuttering is usually considered a type of behavioral problem. Speech therapists will try to teach your child who stutters behavioral modification techniques that in turn may help control their stuttering.

A common method that may be used on your child is to teach them to control the rate of speech since speaking too quickly can make stuttering worse for some people. Practicing speech in a slower, more fluent manner can be helpful. It can also be helpful to monitor breathing.

Even after treatment, people who stutter may require follow-up sessions with their speech therapist to keep the problem from recurring.

Speech Therapy for Aphasia

Some speech therapy methods help people with aphasia. Speech therapy assessments can also help determine if someone has the condition.

Aphasia is a condition that causes difficulty speaking as a result of some sort of damage to the brain. The condition can also consist of difficulty listening, reading, and writing. Aphasia happens to many adults after they have experienced a stroke.

Speech therapists play a crucial role in diagnosing aphasia by evaluating an individual's ability to understand others, express themselves, and even swallow. There are many different things a speech therapist might do to help a person with aphasia, including:

  • Drills to improve specific language skills
  • Group therapy to improve conversational skills
  • Gestures and writing to augment their communication skills

Speech Therapy for Swallowing Difficulty

Speech therapy techniques can also be used to help people who are not able to swallow when they eat or drink.

Your child may experience difficulty swallowing for a variety of reasons. A speech therapist may help your child with swallowing difficulty by assisting them with exercises to make her mouth strong, increase tongue movement, and improve chewing.

A speech therapist may also make recommendations about the consistency of food. For infants, a speech therapist may assist in coordinating her suck-swallow-breath pattern. As previously mentioned these are only some of the things that a speech therapist might do. There are many other conditions and methods used to evaluate those in need.

Summary

There are different types of speech therapy that can be used to treat various disorders affecting speech, hearing, and swallowing. Children and adults with speech delays, apraxia, swallowing problems, and certain medical conditions may benefit from working with a speech therapist.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does a speech therapist do?

    A speech therapist evaluates, diagnoses, and treats speech issues and communication problems, as well as swallowing disorders. They provide various services, from teaching articulation and clear speaking to helping strengthen muscles used to talk and swallow.

  • What are the four types of articulation disorders?

    The four types of articulation disorders are substitution, omission, distortion, and addition. Speech-language pathologists use the acronym SODA to remember them.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Chang S, Synnestvedt A, Ostuni J, Ludlow C. Similarities in speech and white matter characteristics in idiopathic developmental stuttering and adult-onset stutteringJ Neurolinguistics. 2010;23(5):455-469. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2008.11.004

  3. Stuttering. Asha.org.

  4. American Psychological Association. APA Dictionary of Psychology - Definition of Articulation Disorder.

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