There are many types of adult speech-language disorders and conditions. The following is a list of some of the most common adult disorders and conditions that our speech-language pathologists treat.
Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). There are several ways for children or adults with severe speech or language challenges to communicate besides talking. Known as alternative and augmentative communications (AAC), some everyday options include facial expressions, writing, drawing, and pointing to visual objects or written words. High-tech options include the use of an iPad or tablet, or using a computer with a “voice,” sometimes called a speech-generating or “text-to-speech” device.
AAC has been proven to enhance and expand language, and never to reduce or suppress it. While some may be hesitant regarding AAC, it is a wonderful tool to reduce frustration and communicate feelings, wants and needs (even if they speak verbally).
Accent Modification. Accent modification refers to the practice of retraining the pronunciation of certain sounds/words and to modify the timing and prosody of speech to more closely resemble the “standard”, or local speech and language patterns. This procedure is also referred to as “accent reduction.” A speech-language pathologist will work with an individual to help them achieve their communication goals.
Aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate. It most often is caused by strokes that occur in areas of the brain that control speech and language. A person with aphasia may experience any of the following symptoms depending on the extent and location of the damage: trouble speaking or “getting words out,” difficulty finding words, problems understanding what others say, trouble with reading, writing, or math, increased difficulty processing long words and infrequently used words.
Auditory Training. Auditory training helps to target speech loss at the level of the brain. By exercising these specific skills, you can rebuild the neural pathways that were weakened to improve your understanding. Think of it as physical therapy for the brain.
Research shows that individuals who participate in auditory training programs report higher satisfaction with their hearing aids, improved problem-solving in difficult listening situations, overall improved quality of life, and require fewer troubleshooting visits with their audiologist.
Cognition-Communication Disorders. Individuals who have noticed difficulty with their cognitive function (such as attention, memory, reasoning, problem-solving) may benefit from skilled treatment by a speech-language pathologist.
Difficulties or changes in function may be related to:
- Brain injury
- Parkinson’s disease
- Any other disorder impacting the brain
A speech-language pathologist will complete a full evaluation to determine areas of weakness and tailor a specific treatment program depending on the needs of everyone.
Treatment for cognitive-communication disorders often include techniques to improve function as well as education on compensatory strategies to use to improve ability to succeed at work, school, and in the home.
Dysarthria. Speech-language pathologists work on the speech in adults who have been affected by stroke, brain injury, or progressive diseases. Individuals with dysarthria (slurred speech) may benefit from education and training in compensatory strategies and exercises to improve muscle strength and movement and achieve improved intelligibility.
Dysphagia/Swallowing. Dysphagia, the medical term for difficulty swallowing, is a disorder characterized by food or liquid being misdirected and can lead to infection and aspiration. Some people feel the sensation of food or liquid getting stuck in the throat or chest or cough after eating and or drinking. Numerous factors can cause swallowing difficulty, most of them relatively benign. Swallowing disorders can also include problems with chewing and swallowing.
Treatment for swallowing disorders depends on the underlying cause and where the problem originates. Medication, surgery and swallowing therapy by a speech-language pathologist are the most common types of treatments administered.
Executive Function. Executive function refers to a series of cognitive skills that help individuals control and manage their behaviors. For adults, this can include skills to help with time management, planning and prioritizing, organization, emotional control, memory, self-motivation, paying attention and a series of other tools to help complete day-to-day tasks.
Adults with executive function disorder (EFD) may have difficulty with the following:
- Remembering tasks to be completed
- Following conversations
- Being timely
- Switching focus from one activity to the next
- Remembering names
- Keeping track of personal belongings
Speech-language pathologists are trained to help adults with EFD improve their language skills and assist with the social language aspects of executive function.
Fluency. Two of the most common fluency disorders include stuttering and cluttering. People who stutter require individualized treatment plans to achieve the best outcomes. Stuttering therapy often includes exploration of emotions and feelings surrounding fluency in addition to techniques and treatments to make communication easier.
Cluttering is a fluency disorder that may present similarly to stuttering with repetitions and ‘getting stuck’ when talking. There are, however, some differences in the manifestation and treatment of cluttering. Individuals who clutter also often have difficulty organizing their thoughts for writing and storytelling. Their speech may be choppy and disconnected.
We offer a variety of treatment approaches for adults who stutter. This includes individual speech and group therapy as well as the Speech Easy device.
Hearing Impairment. People who have difficulty hearing are likely to also deal with communication issues. Speech-language pathologists are trained to help identify communication disorders, differences and delays of those who have hearing impairments. SLPs can work with individuals, their families and caregivers on appropriate communication techniques and strategies to help cope with communication issues.
Neurogenic Disorders. Adult neurogenic disorders are those that often result from some form of damage or defect in the brain’s normal function, including brain injuries due to stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain tumors, concussion, or progressive neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s and other conditions that may impair cognitive, speech-language and/or swallowing function over time.
Parkinson’s Disease. The Parkinson’s Foundation states that 89% of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience speech and voice disorders, including soft, monotone, breathy and hoarse voice and unclear articulation. A speech-language pathologist can help patients maintain the communication skills they currently have, in addition to helping them regain confidence in conversational skills they might have lost due to isolation and disease progression. It is ideal to see an SLP for a complete voice and speech-language evaluation and treatment.
Some patients benefit from specific evidence-based programs such as SPEAK OUT!®, The LOUD Crowd®, and LSVT, that combine patient and family education, intensive individual therapy, and ongoing group therapy, to target a range of speech deficit areas. This involves patients participating in individual and group sessions with one of our specially certified SLPs to improve and maintain progress.
Voice. The vocal folds, groups of muscle tissue in the larynx, are normally open to allow breathing. When you speak, they close, while air from the lungs makes them vibrate; this produces sound. The size and shape of the vocal folds and surrounding cavities (throat, mouth, and nose) help determine your voice’s pitch, volume, and tone; this is what makes it unique.
When illness or disease affect your voice, it can change the pitch, volume, and sound quality.
Symptoms of a voice disorder include a hoarse, raspy or weak voice; decreased range in pitch, volume, and projection; vocal fatigue; shortness of breath; coughing; sore throat; chronic throat clearing, and voice loss.
Other Neurological Disorders. There are several other progressive neurological disorders, such as dementia, that can also affect speech and language. Initial problems such as memory loss and an inability to concentrate can worsen over time.
Early detection is key! If you are experiencing challenges such as hearing loss, newfound fatigue, dwindling memory, or other signs related to a neurological disorder, it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid further deterioration of your communication abilities.
Call Speech & Hearing Associates at (800) 742-7551 for more information or to schedule an appointment.