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Adult Services

Speech is the verbal side to communicating, which consists of:

  • Articulation – How speech sounds are produced (e.g., children must learn how to produce the “s” sound in order to say “snake” instead of “thnake”).
  • Voice – How we use our vocal folds and breathing to produce speech sounds (e.g., teachers who use their voices incorrectly may develop a hoarseness or lose their voice completely).
  • Fluency – The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering).

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder.

Some examples of speech disorders include:

  • Apraxia of speech (motor speech disorder where the muscles require ‘ retraining’ to produce sounds correctly and create words)
  • Dysarthria (motor speech disorder where the muscles of the mouth, face and respiratory system may be weak, move slowly or not at all. Common causes include stroke, head injury, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy).
  • Stuttering
  • Voice

 

We are currently in the process of creating informative handouts for a wide range of diagnoses for parents and health professionals to download from the website. These will include descriptions, signs/symptoms, and the role of the speech pathologist. Feel free to ‘like’ our facebook page to stay updated for when these handouts are released!

Language is made up of socially shared rules and grammatical structures such as:

  • The meaning of words (definitions that we are taught or create ourselves to understand meaning).
  • How to create new words (e.g., happy, happily, unhappy)
  • How words go together (e.g., “I saw my friend at the shops” rather than “I see shops friend”)
  • Which words are suitable in different situations (“Could you please stop yelling?” could quickly change to “Stop yelling, please!” if the first request was unsuccessful).

When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder.

One of the most common language disorders in adults is aphasia.Aphasia is a disorder which may be mild to severe in nature, resulting from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language. It is often caused by stroke, however may also be acquired following disease or damage to the areas of the brain which contain language, such as traumatic brain injury, illness, dementia and other progressive neurological disorders. Aphasia causes problems with using words and sentences (expressive aphasia), understanding others (receptive aphasia), reading, and / or writing. Those who have difficulty using and understanding language are known to have ‘global aphasia’.

Individuals with aphasia may also have other problems, such as dysarthria, apraxia, or swallowing difficulties.

At Speak Volumes, we provide individualised, person-centred assessment and intervention services for adults with language difficulties consistent with the needs and goals of the client. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you or your loved one with their language skills.

A cognitive communication disorder is a broad term used to describe a wide range of communication problems that can result from damage to lobes of the brain which are important for cognition. The frontal lobes of the brain are especially important for use of higher level language skills such as planning, organisation, flexible thinking and social behaviour. Individuals with cognitive-communication disorders may have difficulties with attention and concentration, memory, literal interpretation, reasoning, problem solving, cognitive fatigue, slower information processing, reduced social communication skills and reduced insight into their deficits.

Causes of cognitive communication problems may include:

  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Aging
  • Tumors
  • Disease
  • Neurological disorders
  • Birth defects
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

At Speak Volumes, we provide individualised assessment and intervention for clients with cognitive-communication difficulties. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

What is stuttering?

Stuttering disrupts the fluency of speech. It often begins during childhood and, in some cases, lasts throughout life. People without a stutter are often dysfluent on about 2% of words – this is a normal part of spoken language. However, when speech dysfluencies increase beyond this level, they often impact on activities of daily living at varying levels for different individuals. People who stutter are often observed to limit their participation in activities due to concern for how others may react to dysfluent speech. Some may try to rearrange the words in their sentence (circumlocution) to avoid ‘trigger’ sounds or pretend to forget what they were saying. The extent of the impact that stuttering may have on an individual’s daily life often depends on how the individual and those around them react to the disorder. At Speak Volumes, our speech pathologists understand the impact that dysfluent speech can have on an individual’s life, and we are passionate about improving outcomes for children and adults who stutter. We have received training in the Lidcombe Program and Camperdown program (discussed below) and are committed to providing evidence based services for effective intervention.

What treatments are available?

Most treatment programs for people who stutter are “behavioural.” Stuttering behaviours in young children (aged 2-10 years) may be shaped using a behavioural method such as the Lidcombe Program, which is a highly researched and evidence based program which we provide at Speak Volumes. Older children and adultsattending stuttering therapy at Speak Volumes are introduced to the Camperdown Program, which is a highly effective, evidence based program for adults which involves learning to speak with a slightly different speech pattern that controls stuttering, while still sounding quite natural.

Both the Lidcombe Program and the Camperdown Program have been developed by the Australian Stuttering Research Centre and are highly regarded worldwide as effective, evidence based treatments for stuttering in both children and adults.

Do these programs work?

Yes, independently replicated clinical trials show that they do work to get rid of stuttering. Clinical trials have also shown that they work in a telehealth setting, where the speech pathologist and family actually never meet; the treatment is done either by telephone or, more commonly these days, with Skype over the internet.

For children, research has also shown that the Lidcombe program is safe. It does not appear to interfere with parent-child relationships and has no apparent effect on other aspects of communication. Indeed, parents report that their children are more outgoing and talk more after treatment because they are no longer stuttering.

With this in mind, we are pleased to say that at Speak Volumes we are able to offer stuttering therapy either in-clinic, or using telehealth (Skype/telephone) to enable all individuals with a stuttering problem to access world leading, evidence based programs resulting in effective treatment and better outcomes.
 

For more information regarding the Lidcombe Program or the Camperdown Program please see here:
http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/asrc/clinic/parents/lidcombe.shtml
http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/asrc/clinic/adults/camperdown.shtml
http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/asrc/research/publications.shtml

What can I do to communicate better with people who stutter?

People who stutter generally want you to talk to them as you would anyone else! They are usually very aware that their speech is dysfluent, and at times it may take them longer to finish their sentence. This often hurries them to speak, leading to even more difficulties with producing smooth speech. Unfortunately, though, this sometimes leads the person to feel pressure to speak quickly. Try not to look away, interrupt, fill in words, or ask them to “slow down”, “breathe” or “try it again”. These pressures hurry them to speak, leading to more pressure and more dysfluencies. By making well-meaning suggestions you may be implying that the stutter should be easy to overcome – but it is not.

When talking with people who stutter, the best thing you can do is give them the time they need without commenting or hurrying them.

At Speak Volumes we provide services for adults with a range of diagnoses and medical conditions. Some examples include:

  • Stroke
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Dementia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Right hemisphere brain damage

We are currently in the process of creating informative handouts for a wide range of diagnoses for parents and health professionals to download from the website. These will include descriptions, signs/symptoms, and the role of the speech pathologist. Feel free to ‘like’ our facebook page to stay updated for when these handouts are released!

Voice therapy involves a range of tasks designed to eliminate harmful vocal behaviours, mould healthy vocal behaviours, and assist in vocal fold wound healing after surgery or injury.

Voice therapy may also include vocal hygiene, relaxation techniques and breath support. Voice therapy for hoarseness usually involves one to two therapy sessions a week for 4–8 weeks, depending on a number of factors such as etiology and severity of the problem, medical therapy, and commitment to implement new vocal behaviours beyond the clinical setting.

At Speak Volumes Speech Pathology, we provide treatment for voice disorders including vocal cord nodules/polyps, vocal cord paralysis, paradoxical vocal fold movement, and spasmodic dysphonia.

We also provide voice therapy for professionals with vocally intense occupations such as teachers, instructors, trainers, attorneys and musicians. Voice therapy may be undertaken to prevent vocal damage, or to treat an existing voice disorder.

When an individual is unable to speak, they lose one of their most basic human rights. In order to maximise communication potential, reduce frustration, and/or promote speech and language development, we may look at alternative options such as Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

AAC includes all forms of communication (other than speech) as a means to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. AAC can be basic (such as facial expressions, gestures, writing, or use of symbols and pictures), or it can be more high tech such as speech generating devices and electronic communication aids. People with severe speech or language problems may require AAC to support existing speech or provide verbal output for non-verbal clients. This may increase social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth.

Clients using AAC should not stop using speech if they are able to do so. AAC is used as a way to promote and enhance effective communication skills, not as a replacement for speech.

When looking at available AAC options, we consider the client’s skills and abilities to determine the most appropriate AAC device for each client (e.g: use of fingers/hands/feet/eye gaze/cognition and ability to see/write/gesture).

For more information please see:

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC)
https://www.isaac-online.org/english/home/

The AAC institute
http://www.aacinstitute.org/