“I can’t understand what my child is saying!”
Does this sound familiar? Speech clarity is one of the main concerns put forward by a majority of parents. Same as we develop speech and language milestones, there is a certain age range when kids start to say each sound. When speech sounds are not developed age adequately, it can lead to issues in speech clarity. There are many speech exercises that can be done to improve an individual’s speech clarity. Choice of exercises depends primarily on the individual’s age, diagnosis, types of speech errors and his/her likes.
Here, we shall look into a few commonly used speech exercises that can be done at home. However, this cannot be generalized to all kinds of speech clarity issues. We highly recommend you to consult a speech language pathologist for an individualized treatment plan to attend to your specific needs.
What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is an intervention / treatment program provided for individuals irrespective of their age to help them improve their communication, language, voice, articulation, fluency and feeding skills.
Top 5 Types of Speech Exercises You Can Do At Home By Yourself
There are many speech exercises that can be done at home. Following are some of the most commonly used speech exercises to improve speech clarity.
This can be planned as a fun game with your child. Stand in front of the mirror and make some silly faces and ask your child to imitate them. As the child enjoys the game, slowly shift to the speech sounds he/she finds difficult to say. Demonstrate the correct positioning of the sound and ask the child to imitate. Always make sure to encourage the child or provide rewards for correct production/ approximate production.
Select any liquid of thick consistency as per child’s liking for example nutella, honey, ketchup etc. Place the liquid at different positions of the oral cavity such as the corner of lips, behind the teeth, roof of the mouth etc. and ask the child to lick it using their tongue tip.
Multisensory Input makes learning speech sounds more effective. When teaching sounds, provide inputs involving multiple senses. For example, if the child has to be taught the sound /s/, you can show how the mouth should be placed to produce the sound, which provides the child visual feedback. As you say the sound, the child gets auditory feedback. You can also give a touch(tactile) feedback by asking the child to place the hand before the mouth when saying /s/.
Rate of speech
If your child is speaking too fast, it can affect his/her speech clarity. It is recommended that you encourage your child to speak slowly. This inturn will help improve speech clarity.
Open mouth approach
Speech clarity can be compromised if the individual prefers to speak with limited mouth opening. In such situations, if we try to speak in an exaggerated manner (speaking with an open mouth and enunciating each sound correctly), speech clarity will be improved.
Why Speech Therapy?
If you want to work on your communication skills, language skills or if you have any difficulty in your voice, difficulty in articulating sounds, difficulty speaking fluently or have swallowing and feeding difficulties, speech therapy can help you. Speech therapy from a certified speech language pathologist can help resolve the difficulties or help provide an alternate method thereby minimizing the degree of difficulty experienced by the individuals.
What is the most common speech disorder?
Speech disorders include stuttering, cluttering, articulation disorder and voice problems. In these the most commonly seen speech disorder is stuttering. According to the statistics, there are also other speech disorders such as apraxia ( difficulty in programming movements), dysarthria(difficulty due to weakness in muscles), speech sound disorder, (misarticulation), voice disorder, etc. that are more common than many others.
What Are the 4 Types of Articulation Disorders?
Articulation disorders mainly focus on the errors in the production of speech sound by an individual. The 4 types of articulation disorders seen are :
- Organic Speech sound disorder.
- Functional speech disorder.
- Developmental phonological disorder.
- Developmental apraxia of speech.
- Developmental dysarthria.
Is Autism a Speech Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder is not a speech disorder. Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder. However, Autism spectrum disorder includes an array of symptoms which also includes speech delay, language delay and communication problems.
How Many Types of Speech Therapy Are There?
Speech therapy can be divided into several types based on the problems that have to be dealt with. In other words, speech therapy varies with each disorder.
A speech-language pathologist uses different types of speech therapy and provides support in the following areas:
- Fluency (stuttering, cluttering etc.)
- Speech (articulation)
- Language (e.g. ability in comprehension of spoken and written language)
- Cognition (includes attention, memory, ability to solve problems, etc.)
- Voice (e.g. characteristics of vocal tone)
- Swallowing (includes stroke, congenital disorders, etc.)
What is the Most Common Type of Speech Therapy?
It is difficult to pinpoint one therapy as the most common speech therapy. Speech therapy caters to a wide array of speech, language and communication concerns and the treatment provided for each varies depending on various factors such as age, severity etc.
What Happens in Speech Therapy for Toddlers?
Speech therapy in toddlers focuses on the speech and language stimulation for children who have not achieved adequate speech and language skills. Child-centered therapy includes various techniques and activities to help the toddler develop skills depending on their specific needs.
Therapist builds rapport with the child as an initial stage of therapy. Based on the skill needs, therapist may also work on pre-learning skills to improve child’s attention, eye contact, sitting tolerance, compliance, etc. which are necessary for involving the child in speech and language activities.
Gradually, the child is introduced to various speech therapy activities based on the goals set by the therapist in collaboration with the parent. Goals are set according to the individual child’s delay in understanding and speaking. Parallelly, parents are trained and counseled on child’s condition, how to handle and what to focus at home.
Speech therapy needs for each child varies, so do the activities and techniques used. In toddlers with speech difficulties, therapists utilize different strategies to help them utter a sound or word. They may also suggest jaw, lip or tongue exercises to do at home. For toddlers with language difficulties, therapists may use different activities that include picture books, talking, playing etc. Whatever your child’s speech difficulty may be, never delay to seek professional help. A child feels happy when he/she is able to express themselves clearly.
Earlier the treatment, better the results!