Speech therapy is a treatment that helps both adults and children who have difficulty communicating effectively. Speech is often associated with the action of eating, drinking and/or swallowing. This treatment is often overseen by a licensed allied health professional called a speech therapist. The therapist works with parents, caregivers and professionals who are often in contact with individuals who have problems with speech such as such as teachers, occupational health therapists and doctors.
A speech therapist in Singapore should have specific qualities if they are to be effective in their jobs.
- They should enjoy working with people
- Be good at teamwork
- Have good listening and communication skills
- Enjoy problem solving
- Be dynamic as this profession is always developing with new evidence in science, medicine and education
- They should be natural leaders.
To be a licensed speech therapy, an individual must complete a post-secondary degree course from an accredited University. This degree would usually last 3-4 years. Some individuals go further into a Masters and PhD. After completing the course, they would normally register with the appropriate health council in the jurisdiction they would like to work in.
Speech therapist work in community health centers, clinics, special needs schools. Others are home based and can visit patients in their homes. They evaluate disorders pertaining to cognitive impairments, language delays, fluency and stuttering, feeding, swallowing, voice and articulation.
Speech therapists are very important to individuals who encounter speech delays. These individuals usually have low self-esteem because they are often not easily understood by their peers. They find it difficult to make friends or participate in discussions. They also have difficulty with reading and writing which will affect their literacy skills and their ability to understand and interpret information. A speech therapist uses strategies that are custom built according to the individual. They help the patients pronounce syllables, help in learning the meanings and concepts of words and go at the pace of the patient without any pressure. How long a patient stays in speech therapy will depend on their attendance, their learning pace and their ability to apply and remember what they learned during session.
It is important to observe yourself or your children as they learn to talk. Catching speech impairment early and being referred to a speech therapist can make the difference between fitting into society and being able to be a self-sustaining, happy and confident person.