What is Speech Therapy for Adults?

Speech therapists, or Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), are highly trained professionals with Masters or Doctorate Degrees. They specialize in helping both children and adults with communication disorders. Many people are familiar with speech therapy for children. Some children may go to an SLP because they have difficulty producing some sounds correctly (for example, saying “wabbit” for “rabbit”, “appo” for “apple”, or “jips” for “chips”), or if they stutter. But did you know that SLPs also work with adults? So, how exactly can a speech therapist help adults?

Often when adults suffer a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, they need help reorganizing their thoughts, orientation, and memory. Sometimes they need help retraining their swallowing function, in order to keep them safe and prevent food and liquid from going down into their lungs. Perhaps someone’s Grandma has dementia, with difficulty remembering people, events, and things most dear to them. These are some examples of when a speech therapist, or SLP, can help an adult.

SLPs evaluate and provide therapy for communication disorders for adults, including speech, language, swallowing, cognitive communication, social communication, pragmatics, auditory processing, fluency (stuttering), voice disorders, and training for use of alternative/augmentative communication (AAC) devices.

Let’s talk about each of these areas more.

  • Speech is the way we produce our sounds, or clarity.
  • Language includes expressive language (how we express our ideas and thoughts) and receptive language (understanding others).
  • Cognitive communication includes memory, orientation, problem solving, organization, attention.
  • Social communication involves conversational dynamics, such as taking turns in conversation or altering our language to suit different situations.
  • Dysphagia (swallowing) includes determining risk for aspiration, swallow integrity, recommendations for safest and least restrictive food/liquid consistencies, safe swallowing techniques, compensatory strategies, exercises to strengthen oral pharyngeal musculature.
  • Fluency includes stuttering, and how it affects a person’s social communication.
  • Voice involves pitch, volume, quality, modifying accent, breathing exercises, resonance, excessive throat clearing.
  • AAC devices are alternative methods for communication when a person is nonverbal (such as using an iPad to communicate).

So, what are some things we should watch out for? When should an adult go to see an SLP? Watch your loved ones for difficulty swallowing, coughing, choking, clearing throat while eating or drinking, drooling, or having a “gurgly” voice after eating. Also watch for difficulties with memory, attention, organization, problem-solving, or finding the right word to say. An SLP could help your loved one with these difficulties.

10 thoughts on “What is Speech Therapy for Adults?

  1. Thanks for explaining how Speech Language Pathologists can help people who suffered from a stroke reorganize heir thoughts, orientation, and memory. My uncle fell victim to a pretty serious stroke last year, and he’s slowly recovering to full mobility. However, his speech is greatly affected and he tends to stop mid-sentence. I’ll be sure to help the family look for a reputable speech therapist that can help him recover back to normal.

  2. Hi I’m Sandra and I think I have this problem, I am just starting a career and this defects always pull me back from achieving my goals. I find it hard to remember things, words and even names. I have to think real hard to remember. I also can’t seem to be fluent when I speak because It always comes out like I’m stuttering and it gets worse when I’m nervous. This thing is really ruining my life and I need help. Are there exercises I can do to help improve my speech and memory

    1. Sandra,

      Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns about your memory and speech fluency. To answer your question, yes, there are many strategies and techniques you can use to help you be more successful. We have two clinically trained Speech Language Pathologists here at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, who would be happy to work with you.

      Saunja Carlson, MS, CCC-SLP
      Speech Language Pathologist
      Bear Lake Memorial Hospital
      Afton Elementary School
      Cokeville Schools
      Idaho Connects Online School (ICON)
      Cell (208) 705-5946

  3. am getting nervous while talking in public or with my colleagues am a doctor & i face this problem much greatly it effects my patients while i talking to them

  4. When I feel a little bit nervous I can not speak fluently and speak a little bit late..So what can I do now??

    1. Speech Therapy for adults can be a lot of different things. Therapy can target increasing swallowing abilities for adults who have had a CVA or have other conditions that decrease the strength of the muscles required for chewing and swallowing. Therapy can also target communication that is effected by a CVA such as slurred speech and word finding difficulties. Therapy can also target memory and cognition

    1. Stammering is a type of stuttering or clustering, or when a person’s language is not smooth, but choppy. Usually this choppy pattern happens in specific places in sentences, but not always. A Speech Language Pathologist first evaluates the pattern of the person’s “stammering” or stuttering and then creates a plan of care or treatment plan with the person/care giver/team etc. Goals usually involve how the person breathes while speaking, different triggers that might be causing the person to stutter, and different patterns that involve slow speaking with specific environments and topics of conversation. Age will determine the team who will help the person who stammers.

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