Speech therapy is needed when there are problems with voice, speech, language, hearing and swallowing. Speech therapists treat disorders in the field of personal communication. They are also engaged in information, prevention and research.
There are four treatment areas within speech therapy: language, voice, speech and hearing. The speech therapist offers therapy and advice to people who experience problems in one or more of these areas. In addition, a speech therapist is consulted when there are swallowing problems or acts as a voice therapist for singers, actors, teachers or other professionals who often have to use their voice. Some speech therapists also develop a practice in remedy of (mainly) written communication and help pupils with dyslexia, dysgraphia or other learning problems.
Speech therapy can be used in case of the following problems:
- Swallowing problems in adults.
- Nutritional problems in children.
- Communication problems (such as stuttering).
- Breathing problems or dysfunctional breathing.
- Conditions in the facial muscles.
- Voice problems.
- Guiding patients with a tracheotomy cannula (a tube into the windpipe to breathe through).
The intake includes an introduction and identification of the request for help. Subsequently, examination is carried out by means of a medical history, observations and standardized test methods. Then the treatment starts. Duration and frequency of treatment varies from several weeks to several months and depends on the nature and severity of the problem. Follow-up includes a periodic check and, if necessary, referral to other specialists.
In a large proportion of children, the speech/language level improves as a result of speech therapy. Speech therapy also ensures better social development of children, parents can better deal with the disorder and speech therapy results in less crime.