What Is Language? What Is Speech? Language is different from speech. Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following: • What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity) • How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly) • How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new") • What word combinations are best in what situations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)
Speech is the verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following: Articulation How speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit"). Voice Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (e.g., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice). Fluency The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency). When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder. When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder. Language and speech disorders can exist together or by themselves. The problem can be mild or severe. In any case, a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the first step to improving language and speech problems.
What do Speech and Language Pathologists do? Speech and language Pathologists (SLPs) provide life-improving treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking or swallowing. SLPs assess and treat speech, language and communication problems in people of all ages to help them communicate better. They also assess, treat and develop personalized plans to support people who have eating and swallowing problems. Using specialist skills, SLPs work directly with clients and their families and provide them with tailored support. They also work closely with teachers and other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals and psychologists to develop individual treatment programmes.
Who benefits from speech and language therapy? Speech and language therapy benefits people of all ages, for example: Infants: SLPs support premature babies and infants with conditions such as cerebral palsy, cleft palate and Down syndrome from very early in life who have difficulties with drinking, swallowing and early play and communication skills. Children: SLPs support children with primary speech, language and communication difficulties, such as stammering, as well as speech, language and communication difficulties that are secondary to other conditions such as learning difficulties and hearing problems. Adults with learning difficulties: SLPs support adults who have developmental conditions such as learning disabilities, autism and Down syndrome. Adults: SLPs support adults with communication and/or swallowing difficulties as a result of medical conditions, such as stroke, head and neck cancer, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.