Speech therapists, a.k.a. “word doctors”

Posted on June 3, 2019

Did you know that speech therapists are word disorder specialists? In fact, they can help any individual, from age 0 to 99, with communication difficulties. Although their field of expertise is very broad, it’s always centred on communication.

Xavier is 20 months old and has yet to utter his first words. Speech therapy to the rescue! A speech therapist will help Xavier’s parents and other people in his circle to develop effective language stimulation techniques.

Three-and-a-half-year-old Naomi isn’t speaking in complete sentences: “Mommy, want milk.” As with Xavier, a speech therapist will work with Naomi and her family to help her form full sentences.

Five-year-old Jessica has trouble understanding complex instructions and inferences (what is “understood”) in stories. She also still has some difficulty pronouncing the sounds “f”, "v” and “r.” A speech therapist can give Jessica’s parents guidance and help her improve her comprehension and pronunciation.

Nine-year-old Gabriel is having problems learning to read and spell. His reading is choppy and slow, and it’s hard for him to understand what he reads. He also has issues solving math problems, because he has to read them! Yet, he’s very good in arithmetic! A speech therapist will be able to assess his strengths and weaknesses to determine how best to help him.

Simone is 14 years old. As a young child, she used to stutter. Since she started high school, her stuttering has somehow resurfaced and bothers her a lot. Her parents want to help. So, together, they consult a speech therapist, who will help Simone understand why she has suddenly started stuttering again and will, of course, help her stutter less.

Amanda, who is 18 years old, has just started taking a drama class at CEGEP. Reading and writing have always been a challenge for her, but she’s never failed. However, this year, she’s finding it especially difficult. She’s afraid of failing her standard French exam, which she must pass in order to get her diploma. To get to the bottom of the problem and find out if she has dyslexia or dysgraphia, she decides to see a speech therapist!

Matthew is 28 years old. He’s just gone through a terrible ordeal: a car accident has left him with a traumatic brain injury. As a result, he also has significant difficulty communicating. A speech therapist will help Matthew throughout his rehabilitation so he can learn to communicate again.

Joanne is 62 years old. While gardening, she sensed that something was wrong. Luckily, her husband was with her when it happened and rushed to call an ambulance. She had suffered a stroke on the left side of her brain. In addition to learning how to walk again, Joanne will have to learn how to talk and how to understand speech again. Joanne will therefore attend many speech therapy sessions throughout her rehabilitation.

Monique is 78 years old. Her family doctor had to inform her that he suspects she has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s. In addition to memory loss, which is a well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s, Monique is having a difficult time finding the words to express herself. She’s also not speaking as much as she used to. Monique and her loved ones want to understand how the disease affects the way she communicates. They would also like to know how they can change the way they communicate with her so that she can enjoy conversation for as long as possible, despite her decline. They therefore decide to consult a speech therapist.

In what other ways can speech therapists help?

Speech therapists are also called upon to work with individuals on hundreds of other problems, such as deafness, intellectual disabilities, Parkinson’s, tongue cancer, autism, vocal cord nodules and verbal dyspraxia (difficulty producing speech sounds), to name a few.

In conclusion, I invite you to make an appointment with a speech therapist if you find that you, or someone close to you, is having difficulty understanding, speaking, reading or writing. Communication is a very important part of our lives, and it deserves our attention. On that note, I wish you “Good communication!”

Translated by Josephine Versace, Language Portal of Canada


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Sonia Routhier

Sonia Routhier

Sonia Routhier is a passionate, multidisciplinary and extremely positive person with a master’s and a PhD in speech pathology. In addition to being a speech therapist, she is a professional photographer and a member of a gerontology research team. Language and communication are at the heart of her various achievements.


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