Speech Therapy

In the rehabilitation of the individual with CP, the primary role of the speech/language pathologist/ therapist is to address communication and feeding needs. Common sequalae of the disorder treated by speech therapists include impairments of articulation that may include mild to severe dysarthria, difficulties with swallowing, saliva management, and nutritional problems. Due to poor motor control, individuals may exhibit problems with the coordination of swallowing with breathing, difficulty with collection and organization of food, and problems with drooling.

To facilitate management of swallowing and eating, positioning and oral sensorimotor training may be used. As the child with CP ages, it is hoped that natural speech will improve. However, if a child does not exhibit the ability to functionally communicate and interact with the environment, the use of augmentative or alternative communication may be explored. Augmentative communication involves the use of aids to supplement existing vocal communication. Alternative communication is defined as communication without verbal ability.

Augmentative and alternative communication techniques are widely available and vary in cost and complexity of use. Low-cost techniques include the use of sign language, gesturing, or pointing or eye gaze in conjunction with a picture board. For those individuals possessing the cognitive skills for complex language, computer-driven devices with high-quality voice output and visual imaging systems are available.

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