How The Speech Clinic in Barrie Can Help

Accent Reduction…

Canada is increasingly becoming more diverse. People come to our country from cities from all over the world. For some, they feel their accent is a barrier to communicating with others in the way that they would like. This may hold them back from socializing with others as much as they would wish to, or may make it difficult to give presentations at their workplace with confidence. It is important to note that some speech sounds that we use in English are not found in some languages around the world, just as there are some speech sounds in other languages that we do not use in English. These sounds in particular can make it challenging for people to speak at ease in English. A speech-language pathologist can analyze the speech sounds in a native language, and compare those sounds to English, to help develop a personalized program for accent reduction. These programs are not designed to eliminate an accent, but to help the individual communicate more clearly English sounds. The goal is to help the person increase their ability to pronounce English sounds, and develop confidence that they will be well understood by others.

Apraxia of Speech...

Apraxia of speech is when someone has difficulty with sequencing speech movements from one sound to the next. For example, if you were to say the word 'cat', you would first make the 'c' sound, then the 'a' sound, and end with the ’t’ sound. Someone with apraxia would have a hard time smoothing out and programming their tongue to move from 'c' to 'a' to 't' as we would typically expect to hear. At The Speech Clinic, our S-LPs can work with you or your child on personalized and specific exercises to improve apraxia of speech. We have S-LPs trained in both PROMPT© and Kaufman if this programming is required.

Articulation Difficulties…

Articulation refers to how we move our tongue, lips, and teeth, and jaw to make specific speech sounds. When someone has an articulation difficulty, it means that they struggle or are unable to produce certain speech sounds and need help in learning how to do so. Our Speech-Language Pathologists at The Speech Clinic work on specific exercises to help people learn how to produce certain speech sounds, and how to consistently use them appropriately in conversational speech. We have SLPs who are trained in PROMPT and Kaufman.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)…

Articulation refers to how we move our tongue, lips, and teeth, and jaw to make specific speech sounds. When someone has an articulation difficulty, it means that they struggle or are unable to produce certain speech sounds and need help in learning how to do so. Our Speech-Language Pathologists at The Speech Clinic work on specific exercises to help people learn how to produce certain speech sounds, and how to consistently use them appropriately in conversational speech. We have SLPs who are trained in PROMPT and Kaufman.

Alternative means of communicating are used when someone is unable to communicate verbally. The Alternative system is used in place of speaking. Both augmentative and alternative means of communication include: gestures, signs, picture or word boards, speech generating devices that provide a ‘voice’ for the person.

Our speech-language pathologists at the Speech Clinic will help the client and their family develop a system that works best. This includes extensive training and development of tools that are functionally useful in a variety of environments.

Autism…

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.” from Autism Speaks Canada.

At the Speech Clinic, our speech-language pathologists can help clients and their families to develop speech-language and social communication skills using a variety of techniques. We have staff who are Hannen and PROMPT trained, as well as therapists who have extensive work in AAC for clients who are unable to speak.

Brain/Head Injury – Cognitive Communication Disorder…

Cognitive-communication disorders are common after traumatic brain injury. The word ‘cognitive’ refers to ‘cognition’ which involves higher level processes our brains use to help us function in the world; for example, memory, attention and concentration, organization and planning, filtering out distractions, filtering what we say before we say it etc. ‘Communication’ refers to the way in which we convey meaning to one another and includes: reading, writing, listening, speaking, gesturing etc. Cognitive-communication therefore refers to how cognition and communication affect one another. For example, having a poor memory can make it difficult for you to be a good listener when someone tells you a story because you forget important details from the beginning of the story mid-way through. For another example, not being able to filter what you say before you say it can lead to bringing up embarrassing topics of conversation un-intentionally. These are cognitive-communication issues. The Speech Clinic’s speech-language pathologists can complete a cognitive-communication assessment to determine areas that are challenging. Using these results, our therapists will develop a functional and comprehensive treatment program with you and your family. Our SLP’s who work with this population all have over 5 years’ experience with brain injury treatment.

Central Auditory Processing Difficulties…

Central auditory processing can best be thought of as what we do with what we hear. The speech sounds we hear are decoded and then meaning is given to the sounds. Once this is completed, we store the information in a sequenced and organized way. Central auditory processing also includes memory of what we hear, and our ability to tolerate the noise around us. It also involves how noise impacts our ability to pay attention to the incoming speech sounds. Some people have difficulty with one or more of these auditory processing abilities. This can result in difficulty with memory, learning, and often results in reading and writing difficulties in children. It can occur along with other disorders such as attention deficit disorder or on its own, and is often seen in children with a history of chronic ear infections.

At The Speech Clinic, our SLPs can help figure out if a Central Auditory Processing Disorder exists by providing a screening test for CAP disorders. Suggestions can then be made for further testing with an Audiologist, Psychologist and/or further testing by the SLP to determine exactly how it affects you or your child. Our SLPs can also offer some direct therapy to improve auditory processing skills and strategies to compensate for the deficits.

Language Delays…

Receptive language is your understanding of language (for example, answering questions, and following directions). Expressive language is your vocabulary, length of sentence, and how we put words into meaningful sentences and conversations. Children are known to reach certain milestones with their receptive and expressive language development. When children are not reaching these usual targets, they are said to have a language delay. The Speech Clinic's Speech-Language Pathologists can help children with language delays by working on specific tasks and exercises to promote language learning. All goals are personalized to each client's language needs. We have S-LPs who are Hanen® certified in It Takes Two to Talk®.

Listening, Reading and Writing Problems

We need to understand and be able to manipulate language in order to be able to listen, read, and write. For this reason, speech-language pathologists can assess listening, reading, and writing to determine if there are any challenges or difficulties. From an assessment, appropriate exercises and goals can be developed as a personalized program to help our clients increase their listening, reading, and writing abilities.

Neurologic Causes - ALS, Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s/Dementia…

Neurologic causes for speech-language difficulties include but are not limited to Parkinson’s disease (PD), multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou-Gehrig’s disease (ALS), dementia and Alzheimer’s. These conditions often affect speech-language as well swallowing, both of which our SLP’s are trained to treat. In earlier stages of PD or ALS, for example, our therapists can provide the client and families strategies for maintaining speech and vocal volume. During this time the SLP is also likely to suggest developing alternative or augmentative ways of communicating (AAC, see more below) so that when the client is not easily understood, or it becomes not possible to speak, there is a communication system in place to have the client’s needs met as well as continue to be able to socialize. Our SLP’s have many years’ experience working with clients with neurogenic causes to their speech-language and swallowing difficulties.

Social Communication Skills and Groups…

As human beings, we are social by nature. We connect with one another through interaction and conversation. For many people social communication skills are difficult. It could be the result of a diagnosed condition, such as autism spectrum disorder, an acquired brain injury, or simply because he/she has always struggled communicating effectively with others in a socially appropriate way. The Speech Clinic's staff of experienced speech-language pathologists develops specific goals and strategies to improve social communication skills, unique to each client. Examples of social skills include: how to greet someone, turn-taking in conversation and play, engaging in eye contact, and maintaining conversation. The Speech Clinic offers one-to-one direct therapy, as well as our social thinking group, "Friend to Friend," designed for children and adolescents.

Stroke Rehabilitation – Including Aphasia…

Aphasia is a common communication disorder after a stroke. Aphasia causes difficulty finding the words that you want to say and/or have difficulty putting words together in sentences that are meaningful. Other issues such as memory, attention and concentration, fatigue, and perseveration (not being able to stop saying a particular word, or not being able to get off a particular topic) etc. can also have an effect on communication after a stroke. The Speech Clinic’s speech-language pathologists can complete a cognitive-communication assessment after stroke. From this assessment a personalized and functional treatment program is developed. The Speech Clinic is also in progress of developing post-stroke communication groups – please call us to inquire or have us put you on our list of interested participants.

Stuttering and Fluency…

When someone speaks and repeats words, sounds, or phrases so frequently that it disrupts the natural flow of conversation, it is considered stuttering or dysfluency. Stuttering can also include ‘blocks’ where no air or sound comes out when the person tries to speak. The Speech Clinic’s speech-language pathologists have a number of strategies, exercises, and programs that they can work on with people of all ages who stutter.

Swallowing Difficulties (Dysphagia)…

There are many causes of a swallowing difficulty; however, they are most frequently seen in the elderly, people who have progressive neurological diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, someone who has been diagnosed with oral, throat or esophageal cancer, and those who have had a stroke. They may also occur in those diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and similar disorders.

The obvious signs of a swallowing difficulty include coughing, throat clearing, a sensation of something stuck in the throat or chest and a wet or gurgling voice after you eat or drink or shortly thereafter. However, less obvious signs include weight loss and refusal to eat, among others. These are all red flags that food and/or fluids are not going down the 'right way' or that a problem exists in the swallowing process. The risks associated with swallowing difficulties are significant as it can lead to aspiration pneumonia which may make people very ill, and at times can lead to death. It is therefore very important to speak to your doctor about any swallowing issues you or your family member may be having.

The muscles, nerves and oral structures (lips, tongue, teeth) involved in swallowing are also utilized for speech. Speech-language pathologists complete swallowing assessments as they are extensively trained in the anatomy and function of the speech and swallowing structures.

The Speech Clinic's SLPs will complete a thorough assessment to determine the safest foods and drinks for you as well as suggest strategies and exercises to help you swallow more safely. Our SLPs may also recommend a video swallowing study where an X-ray is taken of your swallow if further information on the swallowing mechanism and sequence is required.

Voice Difficulties…

A voice is unique to each individual, and is created by vibrations made by our vocal chords (also known as vocal folds). A voice difficulty is often discovered when someone hears a problem or notices a change in the way their voice sounds. It can be too weak or quiet, hoarse sounding, losing one’s voice partway through a day, rough or breathy sounding, etc. Our speech-language pathologists at The Speech Clinic can assess the qualities of a presenting voice difficulty and complete therapy to help remedy the voice difficulty. An assessment by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist is necessary to diagnose or rule out any organic reasons for having a voice difficulty such as vocal nodules or polyps. Our speech-language pathologist will likely recommend an ENT assessment visit if one has not been completed already.

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