Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

By Jeff Rasansky

Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Speech Therapy & Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy often affects the muscles of the mouth and tongue making it difficult or impossible to speak. Communication is just as important as mobility in helping a person with cerebral palsy live an independent lifestyle. Socialization depends on a person’s ability to interact with their peers. Since language is the primary form of communication, deficiencies can lead to isolation and depression.

Speech therapy is a very helpful and effective development tool for those with cerebral palsy. It helps many to communicate their thoughts and ideas on a day to day basis with the world.  CP affects the language centers of the brain which control speech.  Even a child with a mild case of cerebral palsy can have difficulty in choosing the correct words, and in most extreme cases someone’s capability to convey what they wish to say can be severely impeded.  These skills will assist them with learning, assisting on projects, communication skills with others, as well as make the individual feel as an important asset to the community in which they are involved in.

To help better the quality of life with a person with cerebral palsy, speech and language therapists are primarily focused on the individual’s communication skills, where they currently begin communication wise, and the potential of growing in the future.  Starting speech therapy early in a child’s life can benefit communication skills throughout their early adolescence, and continue into adulthood.

Communication skills are a combination of both conveying what one is wanting to say, as well as understanding others and the environment around them.  Speech therapists focus on both communication skills when working with a child.  Developing skills in understanding language, be it understanding verbal language or needing the use of simple clues of the situation at hand, are beginning stages in developing speech therapy.

Using aids in developing speech therapy is a way of learning that can be comfortable with someone with CP.  Activities such as encouraged speech, signing while speaking, electronic aids or a picture board are all useful learning aids when developing speech therapy with a child.  Children who communicate using more than one method of speaking, such as signing as they are speaking or pointing to objects to help describe what they are trying to say, are more likely to increase speech development skills over a child with CP who does not.

Studies have shown that a child with cerebral palsy, with the assistance of a therapist, can increase their oral motor skills and communication abilities by exercising the brain to both pronounce and interpret individual words, gestures, sounds, as well as everyday situations.  In addition, speech therapy can help improve the throat muscles in a child with CP, which will improve the function of the mouth, throat and movement involving breathing and swallowing – all of which can develop to be difficult later in adult life.

Cost of Therapy

Of course, speech therapy is one more expense, and can be out of reach for some. Many families were never able to successfully recover compensation from the doctor or hospital which caused the child’s cerebral palsy in the first place, placing the entire cost of therapy and care on the family.

A child or person with cerebral palsy can greatly benefit from speech therapy, both personally and with those they associate with daily.  It has also been shown that development in speech skills can aid in physical and mobility skills as well; any development in mental functioning will benefit the individual.  Speech therapy is strongly encouraged for all children living with cerebral palsy.

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