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What Parents Need to Know About Speech Therapy

While we know there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are a number of resources and therapies which could help to improve a child’s quality of life.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech and language therapy is considered an integral part of the treatment plan for anyone with Cerebral Palsy.

Cerebral palsy commonly affects the language centres of the brain which control speech, making communication difficult and frustrating for some children. The role of speech therapy is to help children speak clearly, communicate effectively, and control the muscles involved in eating, drinking, speaking and swallowing. It can also help to build a child’s vocabulary, improve listening skills, and help children learn non-verbal communication such as sign language where appropriate.

Therapy will vary depending on a child’s needs and abilities. While a severe degree of cerebral palsy could prevent a child expressing themselves all together, milder cases can make it difficult for a child to use the correct words.

Speech therapy is a key element in the multidisciplinary approach to achieving independence in all aspects of a child’s life.

When Does Speech Therapy Begin?

Speech therapy usually begins as soon as cerebral palsy is diagnosed (usually within the first 18 months). It is said that the earlier speech therapy is introduced, the more chance the brain has of making the crucial progress needed for communication later in life. The length of treatment will depend on the severity of cerebral palsy being treated.

How is Speech Therapy Performed?

Speech therapy is usually provided by a trained, licensed speech pathologist and can involve regular meetings as well as home exercises.

The pathologist may use picture cards, workbooks and computer programmes in therapy to help the child increase their vocabulary and sharpen speech, reading and listening skills. Other methods may include:

  • Word association
  • Blowing exercises
  • Breathing exercises
  • Jaw exercises
  • Articulation therapy

These exercises aim to strengthen muscles used in speech and communication while building on language skills by practising new words and sentences.

What are the Benefits of Speech Therapy?

Communication is an integral part of each and every person’s life, and helps to form our personality and shape our experiences. Therefore, there are unsurprisingly many advantages to speech therapy.

The goal of speech therapy is to help individuals:

  • Understand grammar
  • Increase self-confidence and independence
  • Interact with others
  • Improve memory
  • Eat and swallow safely
  • Develop other communication skills e.g. eye contact, body language and facial expressions

If you believe that your child has cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. You can contact Express Solicitors to obtain advice from a specialist solicitor who will discuss the case with you and provide you with confidential advice on the options available to you.

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