Speech therapy provides life-changing treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.
Speech therapists (SLTs) are allied health professionals. In speech therapy, the therapists work closely with parents, carers and other professionals, such as teachers, nurses, occupational therapists and doctors. There are around 14,000 practicing SLTs in the UK.
The components of speech production include: phonation, producing sound; resonance; fluency; intonation, variance of pitch; and voice, including aeromechanical components of respiration. The components of language include: phonology, manipulating sound according to the rules of a language; morphology, understanding and using minimal units of meaning; syntax, constructing sentences by using languages’ grammar rules; semantics, interpreting signs or symbols of communication to construct meaning; and pragmatics, social aspects of communication.
Swallowing disorders includes oropharyngeal and functional dysphagia in adults and children and feeding disorders in children and infants. Speech therapy can help with these disorders.
Speech therapy provides a wide range of services, mainly on an individual basis, but also as support for individuals, families, support groups, and providing information for the general public. Speech therapy works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Speech services begin with initial screening for communication and swallowing disorders and continue with assessment and diagnosis, consultation for the provision of advice regarding management, intervention and treatment, and provision counseling and other follow up services for these disorders.