① About Speech-Language Therapy
What is speech-language therapy?
Speech and language therapy is concerned with the management of disorders of speech, language, communication and swallowing in children and adults. The healthcare team member who provides this treatment is called a speech-language pathologist/ therapist.
What do speech-language pathologists do?
Speech-language pathologists/ therapists assess and treat speech, language and communication problems in people of all ages. Speech-language pathologists / therapists work with all aspects of communication including speech, writing, reading, signs, symbols and gestures. They may also work with people who have eating and swallowing problems.
A speech therapist also has a particular interest in preventing any problems and educating the public about normal speech and language development.
History of Speech-Language Pathologists/ Speech Therapist in Malaysia.
The field of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in Malaysia was introduced in Malaysia in the 1960s by American Peace Corps. and British Voluntary Service. However it was only in 1985 that an initial interest in forming an association began. It started with a meeting between two local and four expatriate speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Later in December 1992, a group of three local and five expatriate professionals resumed the interest.
In 1994 a proterm committee was formed to officially register the association as a professional body representing the speech-language pathologists and audiologists in Malaysia. The Malaysian Association of Speech-Language and Hearing (MASH) was of officially registered with the Registrar of Societies on December 26 1995. It started with just six members but was a proud day for all speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the country. The first Annual General Meeting of MASH was held at Malaysian Care in Kuala Lumpur on March 26 1996. Since then, membership number grew steadily over the years.
② Structure of the Program
What can I expect at the initial assessment session?
The first visit is typically an assessment to determine the existence and type of the communication problem, identify the level, strengths and weaknesses of the individual’s speech and language skills. You may bring along a referral letter or report from your physician, paediatrician, psychologist or audiologist.
The speech-language pathologist/ therapist will spend some time talking to the parents or caregivers to understand from the parents'/ caregiver’s perspective what the individual’s communication difficulty is. He/ She will also chat or play with the individual and likely to perform some tests to determine the type of communication difficulties.
Next, the speech-language pathologist/ therapist will share his/her findings and make recommendations regarding the requirement and frequency of speech therapy, the existence of other related problems and the need to consult other professionals. He or she may also advice on activities to be carried out at home between appointments.
How are the sessions conducted?
Speech therapy sessions can be conducted in a one-to-one setting or in a group. Sometimes, the speech-language therapist may recommend group sessions to train better response in a more natural communication environment that a group setting provides.
You may ask the speech-language therapist to explain the reasons for recommending either individual or group sessions for your child.
When should I seek professional help?
Seek professional advice when you become concerned. Don't delay. No child is too young to be helped. If there is a problem, early attention is important. If there is no problem, you will be relieved of worry.
When will I know my child can stop speech therapy?
You should check with your speech-language therapist as he/she is probably the best person to know how well your child has progressed so far.
This is especially true if your child has seen the therapist for some time. As you have invested time and effort, it is always in your best interest to discuss any changes in the therapy schedule with your speech-language therapist.
③ Speech, Language and Communication Disorders
What causes speech, language and communication disorders?
Some individuals do not develop speech and language as expected. They may experience difficulties with any or all aspects of speech and language – from moving the muscles which control speech to the ability to understand or use language. These difficulties can range from mild to severe and long-term.
Some children are delayed in language/communication for no apparent reason. They may be developing in a typical progression, just delayed. Other common causes are:
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonological Processes
Language-Based Learning Disabilities
Medical and Developmental Conditions
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Down ’s Syndrome
Right Hemisphere Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury