What is Speech Pathology?

Speech pathology is the study and treatment of speech and language disorders. Speech pathologists work with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. They help people with a wide range of communication disorders including apraxia, speech disorders, echolalia, and aphasia.


child and parent playing on the grass

Speech Pathology and Communication Disorders

So what is speech pathology? Speech pathology is the study of human communication. It can encompass everything from the anatomy and physiology of the speech organs to the cognitive processes involved in communication. This includes the areas of language, speech, and hearing.


Speech pathology can play a vital role in improving a person's ability to communicate effectively. It can also help them to lead more fulfilling lives. Speech pathologists are highly trained professionals who have been trained in the diagnosis and treatment of speech and language disorders.


Speech pathologists work with individuals of all ages, from children to the seniors. They may work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics, and private practices. Wherever they work, speech pathologists strive to help their clients overcome communication difficulties and improve their overall quality of life.


Speech pathologists help people with a wide range of communication disorders, including articulation disorders, stuttering, voice disorders, and language delays. They also work with people who have hearing loss or difficulty swallowing, and help people with understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, and using voice.


In addition to providing direct therapy to individuals, speech pathologists also consult with families and other professionals to develop treatment plans and goals. They may also provide educational seminars to groups on various topics related to communication disorders.


Let’s learn more about the common communication disorders that speech pathology deal with.


Apraxia of Speech

One of the most common communication disorder is apraxia. Apraxia is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to plan and execute movements. Apraxia can affect any voluntary movement. But, it is most often seen in the context of speech. 


When apraxia affects speech, it is referred to as apraxia of speech. Apraxia of speech makes it difficult to produce the correct sounds to form words. The muscle movement required for speech is severely impaired, making it hard to coordinate the muscles used for speech. 

  • People with apraxia of speech often know what they want to say but have trouble saying it. 

  • They may make errors in sound production, such as substituting one sound for another or leaving out sounds altogether. 

  • In some cases, they may even make up their own words.


Apraxia of speech can be acquired or developmental. Acquired apraxia of speech typically results from brain damage due to a stroke or other neurological event. Developmental apraxia of speech is a disorder that is present from birth or early childhood. It is more common in boys than girls and is often seen in children with other developmental delays.


Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) can range from mild to severe. Some children with CAS are only mildly affected and may outgrow the disorder, while others are more severely affected and will require speech therapy to improve their communication skills.


There is no single test that can diagnose childhood apraxia of speech. Rather, diagnosis is based on a combination of factors including a child's medical history, a neurological examination, and a speech-language evaluation. This is why speech pathology is so important in diagnosing and treating CAS.


A speech-language pathologist (SLP) will look at a child's speech patterns and be able to tell if they are consistent with CAS. Speech therapy is an effective treatment for apraxia of speech, a condition that prevents people from being able to produce the correct sounds when speaking. The condition is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, and it can make speaking very difficult and frustrating for those affected.


Speech therapy can help to retrain the muscles and improve coordination, making it possible to produce clearer speech. In addition, speech therapists can work with patients on improving their pronunciation and vocal quality. As a result, speech therapy can be a very effective treatment for apraxia of speech, helping patients to improve their communication skills and overall quality of life.


Overall, speech pathologists can help everyone with communication disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling with a communication disorder, seek out the help of a speech pathologists. While the exact cause of these disorders is unknown, they can have a profound impact on a person's ability to interact with the world. Speech pathologists play a vital role in helping people with communication disorders to manage their condition and improve their quality of life.


Through a combination of counseling and exercises, speech pathologists help their clients to develop new communication skills and learn how to use them effectively. In many cases, speech pathology can be an essential part of successful treatment for communication disorders. If you or your child have communication disorders or challenges, you know how frustrating it can be to not be able to communicate clearly.


mother with children

Lisp Speech Disorders

Another communication disorder that a speech pathologist can help with is a lisp. When it comes to sounds, lisps are one of the most noticeable. And while some children may outgrow their lisp on their own, others may need speech therapy to help them correct the problem.


Do you hear your child struggling to make the "s" sound? If so, he or she may have a lisp. It may sound cute but a lisp can be difficult to understand and can impede a child's speech development. Children learn to produce speech sounds at a specific time. Between 4 and 6 years old is when most children learn to make the "s" sound correctly.


Lisp is a speech disorder characterized by difficulty producing certain sounds, most notably the sounds "s" and "z". Although lisping is often considered to be a childhood phase that will eventually resolve itself, some children continue to lisp into adulthood. 


Children who cannot produce the "s" sound correctly by the age of 7 or 8 may need speech therapy to help correct the problem. They might substitute the "s" sound with a "th" sound, for example, to compensate for the lisp.


There are two types of lisps:

  • Frontal lisps occur when a child has trouble making the "s" sound because they are putting their tongue in between their teeth to make the "s" sound. It may sound like the child is saying "thun" instead of "sun". 

  • Lateral lisps happen when a child has trouble making the "s" sound because they are pushing air out of the side of their mouth instead of the front. This is when it may sound like the child is saying "slurp" instead of "sleep".


At first, you may feel like your child's lisp is something they will eventually outgrow. However, if their lisp is severe or if it is interfering with their ability to communicate effectively, you should seek help from a speech pathologist. With the right treatment, your child can learn to make the "s" sound correctly and improve their communication skills.


When children have a lisp, it can be difficult for people to understand them. This is because lisps affect speech intelligibility or the clarity of speech. When children have a lisp, they may substitute certain sounds for others, mouth words incorrectly, or speak in a monotone voice. As a result, their speech can be hard to decipher.


In some cases, children with a lisp may also have difficulty pronouncing certain words correctly. This can make it even more difficult for people to understand them. While some children outgrow their lisps spontaneously, others may require speech therapy to correct the problem. However, with early intervention and proper treatment, most children with a lisp can learn to speak clearly and correctly.


An untreated lisp may cause psychological problems and can cause a child to be teased by classmates. Children may also have difficulty making friends and may be excluded from activities. They might get bullied because of their lisp. 


In some cases, untreated lisps can lead to speech impediments and other communication disorders. It can lead to more serious psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. This is when speech therapy can help.


Most children who have a lisp will need speech therapy to correct the problem.

Speech therapists will work with your child on exercises to help them make the "s" sound correctly. They might need assistance in learning how to place their tongue correctly or they may need help with learning how to make the "s" sound using the front of their mouth. 


It is important for the child to be aware of their lisp and to be able to identify the different sounds they need to make. Most children can overcome their lisps and improve their speech intelligibility with practice and patience.


To start, children have to know the difference between the sound they substitute and the /s/ sound. Awareness is key to better success in speech sound development. After this, they are ready to learn how to produce sound. Speech drills are very important! First, children should learn the sound in isolation. And then, they will eventually learn how to use the /s/ sound in initial word positions.


Examples of words with /s/ as an initial sound are sun, sand, sew, and soil. While doing these activities, speech therapists may also use mirrors to help your child see how they are making the sound and give them feedback on what they need to do to improve. With hard work and dedication, your child can overcome any challenges they may face with producing the /s/ sound!


mother playing games with a child

Dealing with Echolalia

Some people might be familiar with the term echolalia. Echolalia is when someone repeats back what someone else has said. This is a fairly common phenomenon and is often seen in young children as they are learning to speak. However, echolalia can also be a symptom of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Echolalia is often one of the first symptoms that parents notice in their child with ASD.


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects around 1 in 59 children in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ASD is characterized by difficulties with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and speech and language impairments. Echolalia is one possible symptom of ASD, though it is not always present.


Children with ASD use echolalia in different ways. Some children use echolalia as a way to learn new words and phrases. Others might use it as a way to communicate their needs or wants. Still, others might use it in a more repetitive way as part of a larger pattern of repetitive behaviors. However, echolalia may be caused by difficulties processing language, difficulty understanding social cues, or a desire for more control over communication.


While echolalia is not a diagnostic of ASD, it is often one of the first symptoms that parents notice in their child. In fact, research has shown that echolalia is present in about 80% of children with ASD.


There are different types of echolalia:

  • Immediate echolalia is when a person repeats back what they have just heard. This can be a word, phrase, or a whole sentence. 

  • Delayed echolalia is when a person repeats something they have heard in the past. This could be days, weeks, months, or even years later. For example, a child with ASD might watch a movie and then months later start repeating lines from that movie. They might spurt out random phrases they have heard on the television or from a family member.


Although it has been identified that echolalia can be a helpful tool for language learning. It allows children to process and practice what they hear. However, echolalia can also be a barrier to communication, as it can make it difficult for others to understand what a child with ASD is trying to say. Children with echolalia may not be able to communicate effectively because they struggle to express their own thoughts.


Echolalia can be functional, which means it serves a purpose for the person. For example, if someone asks you for your name, you would repeat back your name in order to answer the question. 


However, echolalia can also be non-functional. This means it does not serve a purpose or help the person communicate. Non-functional echolalia can be repetitive and meaningless.


If you're concerned that your child has echolalia, it's important to speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional. They can help you determine whether echolalia is a symptom of ASD or something else. Generally, echolalia is considered a symptom of ASD if it's excessive, repetitive, and interferes with communication. However, every child is different. Some children with ASD may only have echolalia occasionally, while others may use it more frequently.


Speech therapy is an effective way to treat echolalia. Speech pathologists will observe you and diagnose the reason for your echolalia. He or she will then try to understand why you keep repeating words. Based on that initial assessment, a speech pathologist will develop a treatment plan that will help patients to learn how to say what they are thinking.


Echolalia can be frustrating for parents and caregivers, but there are ways to help your child communicate more effectively. One way is to model communication. This means saying what you want your child to say and then waiting for them to repeat it back. 


Another way is to use visual aids, such as picture cards or a whiteboard, to help your child communicate their needs. If you're concerned about your child's echolalia, speech therapy can help.


Speech therapy can help children with ASD learn to use echolalia in a functional way. For example, a speech therapist might teach a child to use echolalia to answer questions. 


Speech therapy can also help children with ASD develop other forms of communication, such as sign language or picture symbols. A speech therapist uses different techniques and strategies to help each child, based on their individual needs.


senior lady wondering

Dysarthria and Aphasia Treatment

Dysarthria and aphasia are both conditions that can cause problems with speaking. Many people think these two conditions are the same. However, they are not. To help you understand, let's talk about the difference between dysarthria and aphasia.


First, what is dysarthria? Dysarthria is a neurogenic disorder that affects muscle control and movement, resulting in impaired speech. The condition can be caused by damage to the nervous system, brain injury, or degenerative diseases such as ALS or Parkinson's. 


Symptoms of dysarthria include slurred or slow speech, difficulty articulating words, and changes in pitch or volume. The severity of the condition can vary depending on the underlying cause. In some cases, dysarthria may only result in mild difficulties with speech, while in others it can be more severe and impede an individual's ability to communicate effectively. 


Although there is no cure for dysarthria, various treatments can help to improve speech production and comprehensibility. With proper diagnosis and management, people with dysarthria can continue to lead meaningful and productive lives.


On the other hand, aphasia is a broad term that describes a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to produce or comprehend language. Aphasia can result from stroke, brain injury, or disease, and it can range from mild to severe. People with aphasia may have difficulty understanding spoken or written language, and they may also have difficulty producing spoken or written language.


In some cases, people with aphasia may be able to understand the language but be unable to produce it, while in other cases they may be able to produce language but not understand it. Aphasia can be very frustrating for both the person with the disorder and his or her loved ones, but there are treatments available that can help improve communication skills. With proper treatment, many people with aphasia are able to lead full and productive lives.


The main difference between dysarthria and aphasia is that dysarthria is a disorder that affects muscle control and movement, resulting in impaired speech, while aphasia is a broad term that describes a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to produce or comprehend language. Although both conditions can be frustrating and impair an individual's ability to communicate, there are treatments available that can help improve communication.


One thing we know is, speech pathology can help! Speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, assess the nature and severity of the disorder, develop a treatment plan, and provide therapy to help improve communication skills.


In many cases, speech pathology or therapy is highly effective in helping people with dysarthria or aphasia regain their ability to communicate effectively. Speech pathology uses techniques such as exercises, augmentation devices, and alternative communication systems to help people with speech disorders. Most especially, they use different techniques to target different types of dysarthria and aphasia.


If you or someone you know has difficulty speaking, it is important to see a doctor or speech therapist to find out if the problem is dysarthria or aphasia. Treatment is different for each of the conditions, so it is important to get the correct diagnosis.


Look no more! Better Speech is here to help. We offer online speech therapy to help you or your child overcome any challenges you may be facing with your speech. We understand that everyone is different, which is why we tailor our therapy programs specifically to your needs. Online speech therapy can be a convenient and effective way to get the help you need to improve your communication skills.


In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward online speech therapy. This type of therapy offers many benefits, including convenience, flexibility, and affordability. Online speech therapy can be conducted anywhere there is an internet connection, making it ideal for busy adults and families. In addition, online speech therapy can be tailored to the individual needs of each client, providing a customized approach to treatment.


Finally, online speech therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person therapy, making it a popular choice for budget-conscious consumers. While online speech therapy may not be right for everyone, it is an increasingly popular option for those looking for convenient, affordable, and customized treatment.


So, if you're looking for a convenient, affordable, and customized approach to speech therapy, look no further than online speech therapy. Some of the benefits of Better Speech online therapy include improved self-confidence, greater clarity and articulation in your speech, enhanced communication skills, and improved social interactions.


If you are looking for speech therapy, Better Speech is the most convenient, effective and affordable solution. Click here to book your free consultation today.