Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy
This week I am continuing my look at the condition of Cerebral Palsy (CP). Last week's post discussed some of the basic facts surrounding the condition and the overall affect CP can have on an individual. This week I am narrowing the focus and will look at how speech therapy can benefit a child who has been diagnosed with CP.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Source website, Speech therapy can help a child with CP by helping them to "...correct speech disorders, restore speech, use communication aids, learn sign language, and improve listening skills. The duration of a particular speech therapy program varies depending on the degree of cerebral palsy being treated, and the patient's response to speech therapy".
The MY CHILD website offers additional information about the various types of speech disorders that can result from a CP diagnosis and what therapy can/should look like for this diverse population:
"Cerebral palsy often affects the language centers of the brain that control speech. In mild cases of cerebral palsy, a child may have difficulty using the correct words, but in more severe cases, a child's ability to verbally express himself or herself might be seriously impeded".
The site continues on to share that an SLP can help a child communicate using "ques (winking or lifting a finger), sign language, or with the assistance of augmentative communication devices (DynaVox or computers)". The site also lists the following speech conditions individual with CP may experience:
Speech therapy addresses conditions such as:
Aphasia - the loss of partial loss of verbal expression
Dyspraxia - understands language, but unable to consistently and correctly pronounce words because of muscle coordination
Dysprosody - disruptions in speech timing and cadence
Dysarthria - Abnormal facial muscle tone
Stuttering, fluency disorders - chronic interruption or repetition in speech
Dysphagia - causes difficulty swallowing, chocking, breathing issues
Articulation disorders - adding or omitting required sounds, distorting sounds
Prosodic issues - intonation and rhythm
Phonation disorders - issues with pitch
Resonance disorders - vocal tract issues
Additionally, speech pathology includes developing not only the act of speaking, but the ability to fully comprehend language.
Some aspects of speech a therapist will address include:
Language and vocabulary development
Word comprehension and meaning
Engaging in direct conversation
Mouth and throat muscle coordination and strength
In children that are non-verbal, a speech pathologist will identify ways for the child to express themselves that substitutes speaking and promotes human interaction. To accomplish that goal, therapists rely on physical cues, movements, conventional tools, and technology to help a child compensate for his or her limitations. Some of these tools include:
As both sites explain, the role of an SLP in the therapeutic journey of a child with CP is vital. Whether the child has mild or severe CP, these individuals inevitably suffer with communication delays and disorders and it is the role of the SLP to evaluate, diagnose and treat these children.
Join me next week as we look at CP and its effects
on feeding habits and oral motor development.