Speech Therapy. An often-misunderstood opportunity.
A Speech-Language Pathologist (or speech therapist as we are often called) has years of training, their master's degree, yearly continuing education to keep up licenses and certification all so they can help you....
- clearly articulating words.
- come up with the words to form a sentence. By-passing that "tip of the tongue" phenomenon that plagues so many.
- find ways to allow you to enjoy that coffee or hamburger without choking, lower your risk of "aspiration" pneumonia.
- improve voice clarity and loudness so friends and family and strangers can understand you,
- improve attention and comprehension and teach strategies which can improve memory,
- recover the use of written word for communication, to write letters to loved ones and enjoy novels or the newspaper again,
- reduce aggression and agitation in people with dementia.
...and so much more.
All too often, time with an SLP is too short.
So, how do you make the most of it?
Ask questions! Know WHY you are doing an exercise, so you know the importance of it. You have the 1:1 attention of an expert, take advantage of it and ask your questions. The more you understand your condition, the treatment options, and the WHY you are doing a task, the more likely you are to follow through with the plan and make faster progress!
- Share YOUR goals and priorities. Your therapy should focus on what you need to do to live your life, be safe, enjoy your hobbies.
- Ask what you can do at home to practice your skills. Daily practice is most effective to improve anything, so once you are able to practice something correctly, find a way to incorporate it into your daily routine. This will help you progress faster.
- Ask how friends and family can help, what can they do help you communicate better? During your speech therapy sessions, your SLP can give them tips or offer a handout with suggestions for how to help communication go better.
- Be open to new ideas and suggestions. Change takes effort and sometimes out-of-the-box thinking. Recovering communication is not easy (if it was, you wouldn't need speech therapy!) and you have to give the new ideas, exercises and/or strategies a chance to really make some great progress!
- If something isn't working for you, talk to your SLP about it. Express your concerns, and listen to the reason for the activity or the strategy. If you know you won't implement a strategy, then work with your speech therapist to find another option that may be a better fit for you.
- Be patient. Change takes time. You will likely be frustrated, but be determined.
- Keep track of your progress. Sometimes we are too close to really see how far we've come. Looking back and celebrating the small milestones makes a huge difference.
You are the most important member of your team to help you reach your goals. Ask questions to understand how the treatment tasks will help you reach your goals. Actively participate in all of the treatments sessions to really work your muscles and brain connections to help make fast progress towards your goals. Follow your home program. If you disagree with recommendations, discuss them with your SLP. Be a partner in the process towards your recovery.