What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy is the science that deals with speech, voice and chewing/swallowing disorders, in children and adults, whatever the cause of these disorders: neurological, developmental or functional. It aims to develop the extra-verbal and verbal communication, cleanliness of speech and voice and speech production.
What are the speech disorders?
Phenomenologically we could have the following classification of speech disorders:
- Disorders of articulation (dysarthria, dyslalia)
- Disorders of speech rate (logoneurosis, tachylalia, bradylalia, stammering)
- Partial or total oral expression disorders (deaf, dumb, hysterical mutism)
- Voice abnormalities (aphonia, dysphonia, rinolalia)
- Abnormalities comprehension and expression (aphasias, neurological disorders, brain injuries)
- Grammatical / structural abnormalities
- Disorders of writing / reading
- Learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysorthographia, dyscalculia, hyperactivity, attention deficit syndrome)
What are the normal stages of evolutionary development of speech?
Each child is different and therefore there may be some variability on the age that a kid acquire some skill. However, the average age for each skill to appear is essential. Thus, if the child is not progressing in a period of six months beyond the average expected age, then you should consult a specialist.
Up to 12 months
- The baby reacts to sounds
- It can establish eye contact
- It recognizes the voice of his mother
- It is smiling when you talk to it
- it responds to her/his name
- It turns the head towards the source of sounds
- It has a basic vocabulary
Up to 2 years
- The child’s vocabulary has 20-50 words
- It obeys simple commands
- It can use two words to form sentences
- It plays various symbolic games (e.g., pretends feeding an infant etc.)
Up to 3 years
- The child can answer questions
- It can makes simple sentences
- It can follow a conversation
- It likes listening to stories and it can easily follow them
- It asks questions
Up to 4 years old
- It can answer all kinds of questions
- It can be understood by people who are not familiar with it
- The speech is closer to adults’ speech regarding the grammar and syntax
- It can narrate his experiences
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is the disruption in the flow of speech and appears with uncoordinated movements of: the musculature, breathing, voice and articulation. Stuttering is presented in the beginning, or the middle of speech, as repetition of syllables, sounds and words, or as a persistent choking on a phoneme.
The cause of stuttering has not yet explained clearly. It is probably a combination of various factors and phenomena rather than a single factor, or a simple cause. These factors of stuttering can be genetic or environmental, such as problems at home, or stress, and problems in school.
Stuttering usually appears in the childhood, between three and five years old, and most of the times before the completion of eight years. Five percent of children will experience stuttering at some point in their lives, but most cases are cured, while only 1% of adults stutter. Stuttering is four times more common in boys than in girls. A family having a member who stutters is more likely to present the same problem to other members.
When is stuttering normal? To some extent “normal” dysrhythmias occur in the speech of young children during the linguistic and phonological development. Also, while articular and language skills of children evolve with age and over time. The same happens with the proper speech. Therefore, it is difficult to determine if dysrhythmias that young children are showing in their speech are “normal”, or whether they are stuttering characteristic.
How to select a speech therapist in Greece
It is very important to check if the therapist is a member of the Association of Scientists of Speech Pathology/Speech Therapy of Greece (SELLE). If the speech therapist is a member of SELLE, it means that she/he has a speech therapist degree and has completed all the necessary clinical practice on speech therapy. Thus, the therapist has the necessary experience needed. To check if a therapist in Greece is a member of SELLE you can visit the following webpage SELLE (in Greek only).