Having a strong, clear speaking voice is essential for effective communication. However, many adults struggle with voice and speech issues that can negatively impact their ability to express themselves. Speech therapy provides solutions for adults looking to improve their vocal skills.
Understanding Speech and Voice Disorders
Speech and voice disorders in adults can stem from a variety of causes, including:
Certain medical conditions like stroke, brain injury, neurological disorders, or head and neck cancers can impair speech and voice. These types of infections are known as dysarthrias.
Hearing impairment can make monitoring and modulating vocal loudness, pitch, and quality challenging. This leads to speech that sounds monotonous or hoarse.
Excessive yelling, throat clearing, or misusing and straining the vocal cords can cause chronic laryngitis, vocal nodules, or other injuries.
A strong accent or dialect different from mainstream speech can reduce intelligibility and cause communication difficulties.
Why Seek Therapy for Adult Speech/Voice Disorders?
Seeking professional speech therapy is crucial for improving vocal function. Without treatment, speech and voice disorders persist and worsen over time. Reasons to obtain therapy include:
- Restore the ability to communicate effectively
- Increase intelligibility of speech
- Reduce vocal strain and fatigue
- Improve vocal projection and resonance
- Gain confidence speaking in social, professional, and presentation settings
Early intervention is critical – adults who receive therapy generally have better outcomes than those who delay treatment.
The Speech Therapy Process
Working with a licensed speech-language pathologist entails various techniques to rehabilitate and strengthen the voice. Typical treatment components include:
The first step is assessing the vocal mechanism to identify structural abnormalities and determine the disorder’s underlying cause.
Vocal Hygiene/Lifestyle Education
Clients are taught healthy vocal hygiene habits, such as staying hydrated, avoiding irritants like smoke, and using good breath support when speaking.
Specific vocal warm-ups, drills, and exercises are prescribed to retrain the muscles involved in breathing, phonation, resonance, and articulation. This improves vocal control.
Counselling helps change detrimental vocal habits, such as throat clearing, yelling, or brutal glottal attacks. New communication strategies are introduced.
Use of Assistive Devices
For some conditions like Parkinson’s disease, devices such as speech amplifiers may improve speech intelligibility.
Speech Therapy Approaches
Several therapeutic approaches can be used to improve speech and voice in adults:
Lee Silverman Voice Treatment
This intensive program focuses on increasing vocal loudness through high-effort drills and practice. It is primarily used for Parkinson’s disease.
This involves adjusting speech patterns to reduce nonstandard dialects or strong accents. The goal is to improve intelligibility in professional/social contexts.
Strategies for compensating for speech deficits, using communication devices, and gesturing are taught to adults with neurological conditions.
Respiratory Muscle Strength Training
Exercises to improve breathing and breath support for voice production. It helps treat vocal fatigue.
Standardised treatment protocols for adults with Parkinson’s, using high-intensity drills and speech tools to target loudness and articulation.
Partnering with a Speech Therapist
The best way to pursue speech therapy is to meet with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to determine the nature of your voice/speech condition and design a customised treatment plan. SLPs have extensive training in therapeutic communication techniques.
When meeting with an SLP:
- Describe your speech difficulties and goals for improvement
- Ask about their experience treating adult voice/speech disorders
- Inquire about therapy modalities, duration/frequency of treatment
- Discuss costs and insurance coverage options for services
- Maintain an open dialogue and follow recommendations
Committing fully to the speech therapy process is critical – adults who actively participate in sessions tend to achieve better vocal remediation. With consistent practice and vocal health education, sustainable improvements in speech and voice are possible. Be sure to find your voice – take steps today towards more transparent communication.
Committing fully to the speech therapy process is critical – adults who actively participate in sessions tend to achieve better vocal remediation. With consistent practice and vocal health education, sustainable improvements in speech and voice are possible. Be sure to find your voice – take steps today towards more transparent communication. Speech therapy for adults can provide the techniques and guidance needed to resolve voice and speech disorders holding you back.