Speech therapy • When is it used?

Children who are lagging behind in language development, people who stutter or lisp, or who are struggling to learn to speak again after a stroke, accident or tumor surgery: speech therapy helps all of these people to be able to communicate with their surroundings again. How does that work?

As a medical discipline, speech therapy deals with speech, speech, voice, hearing and swallowing disorders. In Germany, a three-year training course is required to become a speech therapist. You can then work in a speech therapy practice, a rehabilitation center or a special needs school, for example.

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areas of speech therapy

Logopedics is based on voice and speech therapy and includes the therapy of speech, language and voice disorders. In addition, speech therapists carry out measures for prevention, early detection and early support as well as rehabilitation with children, adolescents and adults. The term comes from the Greek and literally means “speaking education”. It was introduced in the 1920s by Emil Fröschels, a Viennese doctor specializing in speech and voice medicine.

Speech therapy includes various sub-areas, including, for example:

  • Lute, sound of words (phonology)
  • meaning of words (semantics, mental lexicon)
  • Structure of words, word formation (morphology)
  • Grammatik (Syntax)
  • Application of language (pragmatics)
  • articulation (pronunciation of words)
  • Nest flux
  • orofacial function (functions affecting the mouth or face area)

Disorders within these areas of speech therapy that require treatment can occur individually or in combination. Sometimes they are also accompanied by other deficits, for example in perception, thinking or motor skills.

When is speech therapy prescribed?

Language, speaking, swallowing, or voice problems can occur in both developing children and adults. Often later in old age

The tasks of speech therapy are diverse. It is used both to improve and to treat the deficits. In addition, counseling and training of relatives such as parents are also part of the job of speech therapists. They also work preventively and support people in speaking professions or singers to use their voice optimally.

Speech disorders in children:

There are many different areas of application for speech therapy. In children it is common:

  • Specific language development disorders (primary language disorder)

  • Secondary language development disorders, for example intellectual development disorders, sensory disabilities or hearing disorders

  • Acquired language disorders (childhood aphasia)

  • Fluency disorders, for example, the speed of speech, the speech melody and clarity

  • stutter

  • Rumble characterized by hasty speech and slurred pronunciation

  • Articulation disorders (dysarthria) in which the motor skills of speech are impaired, for example lisp, phonation disorders in which certain sounds (such as “g” or “k”) are not formed correctly. The causes are often hearing disorders, auditory perception disorders, functional disorders of the speech muscles, neurological diseases or malformations such as the jaw-lip-palate cleft.

Speech and language disorders in adults:

  • Aphasia (problems with language comprehension, word finding disorders, pronunciation disorders, grammar disorders, reading and writing disorders, communication disorders)

  • non-aphasic disorders: speech disorders as a result of attention and memory deficits in epilepsy – cognitive dysphasia)

  • complex language and communication disorder, for example in dementia

  • stutter

  • rumble

  • Neurogenic speech disorders (dysarthrophonia = neurological disorder in which speech movements, vocalization and breathing are impaired; apraxia of speech = disorder of action planning when speaking)

In addition, organic, functional or psychogenic voice disorders and swallowing disorders can occur in children and adults.

Diagnostics to clarify the faults

First of all, the speech therapist clarifies in the first consultation which problems exactly exist. In this context, it is also important to know when the speech, language or hearing disorder was first noticed and whether physical causes are known. If children are affected, the relatives are also asked whether it is

  • known disorders in the family,
  • Complications have occurred during pregnancy or childbirth,
  • there was an accident
  • the child had to have an operation in the head or face area or
  • often had middle ear infections.

Subsequently, various studies should clarify how the language skills are. It should also enable the speech therapist to precisely analyze and classify the disorder at hand. The appropriate therapy can then be selected on the basis of this finding.


This is how speech therapy works

The aim of the therapy is to strengthen or improve the communication skills of those affected. Depending on the underlying disorder, therapy sessions may include, for example

  • exercises in pronunciation of words and sounds,
  • breathing and posture exercises,
  • voice therapy as well
  • reading and writing practice.

The treatment usually takes place several times a week at home or in the speech therapy practice, the individual sessions usually last 30 to 45 minutes. The exercises can be supported with technical aids such as a computer.

Logopedic therapy usually lasts several weeks or months. Success does not come immediately, which is why patients have to be patient. It is also important that the exercises shown by the speech therapist are regularly practiced alone at home.

How much does speech therapy treatment cost?

Logopedic therapy is taken over by the statutory health insurance companies as a prescription for medicinal products. Prerequisite is the prior prescription of the treatment by a doctor. Patients only have to pay a one-off fee of ten euros per prescription and an additional payment of ten percent of the entire prescription. Children and young people up to the age of 18 are exempt from the co-payment. Private health insurance companies cover the costs of logopedic treatment at different levels.

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summary


Definition: Medical discipline that deals with speech, speech, voice, hearing and swallowing disorders in children and adults.

Cost: Are covered by statutory health insurance, patients over the age of 18 only have to make an additional payment.

Therapy: There are many different approaches to therapy, including word and sound pronunciation exercises, breathing exercises, targeted voice therapy, and reading and writing exercises.


Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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