As a parent it is vital to understand terms such as speech language. And know the difference between the two. We’ll also look at the term “communication” and clarify the differences between them.
What is speech?
Well according to Wikipedia, speech is the vocalized form of human communication. Which is by no means incorrect, however speech therapists view the term speech in ranges. Which are
- Articulation/phonological skills
- Speech fluency
What is language?
While speech involves the physical motor ability to talk, language is a symbolic, rule governed system used to transfer a message. In English, the symbols can be words, either spoken or written. Language can also be defined as being made up of socially shared rules. Some of these “rule” systems that govern a language include
What is communication?
Communication is the manner of conveying a message or meaning to establish a shared understanding. You do not need speech or a shared language to communicate.
Remember: You can have language without speech!
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What is Laryngeal Cancer?
This is essentially cancer of the voice box, where cancerous (malignant) cells form on the larynx, or voice box causing significant damage to the area and impeding speech. The larynx is made up of specialised folds, known as vocal cords that vibrate to create a sound when air passes through them. A person’s voice can be heard when this sound is echoed through the throat, mouth and nose.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Individuals with laryngeal cancer may notice:
- a lump in their throat
- increased bad breath
- changes in their voice
- shortness of breath
- difficulty swallowing and
- a bad cough or chest infection
The condition can be diagnosed by their doctor using an endoscope to observe the larynx for any abnormalities, this procedure is known as a laryngoscopy. The doctor may need to do a biopsy on a small selection of tissue, whereby the cells of the tissue are observed under a microscope to confirm whether it is cancerous or not.
One or more of these treatments may apply depending on the characteristics of the cancer itself – mainly the severity, size, location, and time of cancer detection:
- radiation therapy
- partial removal of the larynx (laryngectomy)
- total laryngectomy
In these cases, the patient may still be able to speak. However, the patient’s voice may not be the same due to the removal of parts of the larynx, changes to laryngeal tissue from radiation or chemotherapy, or removal of nearby neck muscles (to prevent or stop the spread of the cancer).
In extreme cases, total laryngectomy, with or without radiation therapy or chemotherapy, may be the only life-saving solution. This is the complete removal of the larynx or voice box and during this operation a new pathway for breathing is surgically created, where the end of the trachea (windpipe) is connected to the stoma (hole in the neck) for the patient to breathe through.
Causes and Occurrence
The risk of contracting Laryngeal Cancer is increased by a number of different contributors, including but not limited to:
- heavy smoking and drinking
- malnutrition or vitamin lacking diet where not enough raw food is being eaten
- a compromised immune system
- excessive exposure to harmful chemicals and certain substances (e.g., wood dust, paint fumes, soot)
- acid reflux
Cancers of the voice box or larynx make up about 2%-5% of diagnosed cancers. More than twice as many men as women are diagnosed. Most cases occur between the ages of 50 and 70.
Before and After Care
Once the severity of your condition has been accessed, your doctors will select the best treatment plan to combat the onset and spread of your cancer. Your Speech-Language-Therapist or SLP will explain the effects treatment will have on your speech and how it can be managed.
Speaking after a Laryngectomy
Your Speech-Language-Therapist will be present after surgery with alternative ways to communicate, such as a pen and paper to help you communicate in the early days. Once you’ve adjusted and recovered from surgery you can focus on developing your speech using the tools and exercises your SLP has recommended for you.
(Restoring your voice after surgery)
This is the most basic form of speech rehabilitation and requires the patient to learn how to swallow air and force it through their mouth to create a sound. With training and assistance from your SLP these sounds can be used to form speech. However, new devices and surgical techniques often make learning esophageal speech unnecessary.
Tracheo-esophageal puncture (TEP):
This method is most commonly used to restore speech and can be done during the surgery or later. The surgeon creates a connection between the windpipe (trachea) and food pipe (oesophagus) by means of a small valve that is present at the stoma (puncture site in the neck). This allows patients to be able to force air from the lungs through the mouth. Simply covering the stoma with a finger allows the air to push through to the oral cavity to create a sound. With practice and training from your Speech-Language-Therapist you can regain the power to communicate freely.
This is the mechanically assisted speech, so if you cannot have a TEP for medical reasons, or while you are learning to use your TEP voice, you may use an electrical device to produce a mechanical voice. This is a battery operated device that is placed in the corner of the mouth or against the skin in the neck to produce a mechanical voice. Your Speech-Language-Therapist will provide extensive training on how to use this properly.
A stroke, also known as a “brain attack”, could be fatal, but early action might minimize brain damage and potential complications. This month we will look at the effects of a stroke on one’s speech and how a speech therapist can help. We will also look at what happens to the body while a stroke is happening and warning signs to look out for, of a possible stroke.
Before we carry on, did you know that there are various types of strokes? Even though all of them are serious, a few are notorious for causing severe disability and/or a rapid progression to death. Let’s run through some of them quickly:
Types of Strokes:
About 80 percent of strokes are ischemic. An ischemic stroke is most frequently caused by a blood clot that lodges in an artery and blocks the flow of blood to a part of the brain.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures within the brain.
Transient Ischemic Strokes (TIA)
A TIA is a “mini-stroke” that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time.
No matter which type of stroke you have, many of the symptoms are similar. If you notice someone experiencing any of these symptoms or experience these yourself, get help immediately.
- Numbness or weakness that starts suddenly, most commonly on either the left or right side of the body (face, arms, or legs are often affected)
- Confusion, difficulty comprehending language, or trouble talking that begins without warning
- Sudden vision problems (in one eye or both)
- Severe, piercing headache, with no clear cause, that starts suddenly
- Difficulty walking because of sudden loss of balance or dizziness
Because your brain controls everything you say, do and think, a stroke can have a wide variety of effects. Lets look at how a speech therapist can help with your stroke rehabilitation.
Communication goals can be set by including speech and language therapy as part of stroke recovery. The speech and language therapist will initially assess the level communication difficulty, so that a baseline can be established to measure change against. And so that an individual programme of therapy can be created. An important part of the speech and language therapist’s role involves finding alternative or additional ways of communicating, which may include:
- Communication charts
- A letter board, or
Speech and language therapy can also help with the following difficulties as a result of a stroke.
- Swallowing – including problems with coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- Understanding language
- Speaking, including speaking any words or saying the correct word
- Forming words and speech sounds due to weak muscles in mouth
- Moving the muscles needed for speech in the correct order and sequence, or
- Reading or writing
Do bear in minnd that the amount of therapy will depend on the extent of difficulties.
Have you or someone you know ever suffered from a stroke? Please share your experience with us, by leaving a message below.
September is Deaf Awareness month. Many South Africans are in the dark about the challenges that people with hearing loss face daily. This month we will look at the different types and causes of hearing loss.
Generally, there are two types, conductive and sensorineural. A combination of both is known as a mixed hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
There are various reasons for conductive hearing loss. It can be caused by any condition or disease that obstructs the passage of sound in its mechanical form through the middle ear cavity to the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss typically involves a reduction in sound level. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically.
Below are a few possible causes of conductive hearing loss:
- Fluid in the middle ear from colds
- Ear infection (otitis media)
- Allergies (serous otitis media)
- Poor eustachian tube function
- Perforated eardrum
- Benign tumors
- Impacted earwax (cerumen)
- Infection in the ear canal (external otitis)
- Swimmer’s Ear (otitis ecxterna)
- Presence of a foreign body
- Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear, or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. In most cases sensorineural hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.
Below are a few possible causes of sensorineural hearing loss:
- Drugs that are toxic to hearing
- Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
- Head trauma
- Malformation of the inner ear
- Exposure to loud noise
Mixed Hearing Loss
Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. There may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear. When this occurs, it is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.
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July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month—an observance by people and organizations to help raise awareness of and provide information about cleft and craniofacial defects.
Craniofacial defects are conditions present at birth that affect the structure and function of a baby’s head and face.
The development of the face and facial bones are very intricate. Some defects can occur during early development in utero, which may result in areas of the face being left with gaps. This is called facial clefts, the most common facial cleft that can occur are clefts of the lip, also known as, harelip and clefts of the palate. A cleft lip is a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip and appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. While a cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. In many cases the cause of cleft lip or cleft palate is unknown. However, it is believed that clefts occur due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Challenges related to Cleft Lip and/or Palate
- There is an increased risk of ear infections – there is a high probability that fluid may build-up in the middle ear. If this goes untreated, ear infections could cause hearing loss. To prevent the build up of fluid special tubes are placed in the eardrums to help with the drainage of the fluid.
- Feeding can be problematic – there are however specially designed baby bottles and nipples that help keep fluids flowing downward toward the stomach.
- They may have trouble speaking and speech may be difficult to understand – A speech therapist can work with the child to resolve speech difficulties.
- Dental problems – A greater number of cavities, missing, extra, crooked, or displaced teeth may occur, that will require dental or orthodontic treatments.
Surgery to repair a cleft lip will usually take place in the first few months of the child’s life and is recommended within the first 12 months. Surgery to repair a cleft palate is recommended within the first 18 months. Many children will need additional surgical procedures, as they get older. Surgical repair can improve the look and appearance of a child’s face and might also improve breathing, hearing, and speech and language development. With treatment, most children do well and lead a healthy life.
Did you know that SPAR has donated a portion of the proceeds from registration of the annual SPAR Women’s Race of 2015, to Operation Smile South Africa. They are a non-profit organisation that offers free surgery to repair cleft palates, cleft lips and other facial deformities?
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Vaccines protect babies and children against many dangerous diseases, yet there is still a great deal of controversy surrounding them. A lot of anxiety is based on myths and propaganda. Lets have a look at the facts and debunk the most prevalent myths of vaccination, because ultimately, this is a decision that you, as a parent will need to make for your child.
Vaccination causes autism: –
At the top of our list due to it possibly being the most pervasive of all myths. In the late 90’s a medical journal was published claiming that childhood vaccines cause autism. The study was retracted, and found to be an elaborate fraud. The Institute of Medicine released a report in 2004 that found no scientific evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million deaths each year: –
Protected from the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, immunized children have the chance to prosper.
Infant immune systems cannot handle so many vaccines: –
The immune system, especially that of an infant, could never truly be overwhelmed because the cells in the system are constantly being replenished. Babies are exposed to countless bacteria and viruses every day, and vaccinations are minor in comparison.
When immunization rates drop, diseases come back: –
Worldwide, measles kills 250,000 children every year. Outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella still happen, especially in communities where many people and children are not vaccinated.
Vaccines can infect my child with the disease it’s trying to prevent: –
Vaccines can cause mild symptoms resembling those of the disease they are protecting against. Where symptoms do occur, the vaccine recipients are experiencing a body’s immune response to the vaccine, not the disease itself.
Vaccines do contain a variety of substances besides the viral or bacterial components: –
There are preservatives as well as adjuvants, these are substances, which help vaccines grab the attention of the immune system and prompt it to create antibodies.
Clearly there is an ocean of information out there regarding vaccinations, and as mentioned before the final decision lies with you, as the parent. We do hope that this has helped in making an informed decision.
What are your thoughts on vaccinations? Please your share your thoughts with us by leaving a message below.
To the Doctor who diagnosed my daughter
When I look at her I don’t see autism, because this does not define who she is. I see my quirky, boisterous, stubborn, fearless, independent daughter. She has changed my life in more ways than I wish to admit, but looking back now, I would not change a thing.
It’s almost a year ago that we received her diagnosis. When you asked us all those questions, for which we answered, “no”. When you gravely asked us if we knew what autism was. When you advised us to go through our period of mourning, because she is not the daughter we envisioned. Time slowed down and each word you spoke pierced my heart even more. “How dare you? ” I thought. How dare you turn our lives up side down? Your prognosis wasn’t any more encouraging or helpful.
Me: “Will she progress”
You: “I don’t know”
Me: “Will she speak”
You: “I don’t know, get her into therapy ASAP!”
I know that you are probably de-sensitized by all your cases, but this is my baby girl. You know her by the list of questions you asked, nothing more. Did you know that she could count backward from twenty when she was two years old? That she could spell and do basic math at two and a half or that she potty trained herself? But sadly none of this mattered to you.
Today she looked at me, . . . she made eye contact! And with those huge beautiful eyes, she smiled at me. Without saying a word I knew exactly what she was saying, I knew that she was saying “I love you”, I realized then, at that moment that this thing called Autism is not a death sentence nor is it something that we need to be afraid of. Yes, there are challenges, and some days are better than others. But neuro typical kids have challenges too; they have moods and things that tick them of . . .. This is who she is.
So sorry Dr. x I will not mourn that, I will not mourn the child I never had because she is here with me now and we will face the future together, as unknown as it was last year and as unknown as the future is now. What I do know for sure is that I love my little girl more than anything in this world. And I would do anything to protect and keep her happy. I will be her voice and advocate for however long that needs to be.
Do you suspect your child your child may be on the spectrum? Contact us below for an appointment.
This month we celebrate Autism Awareness. Awareness months are important, as they remind us to take action. However, we also need to educate ourselves about the facts, in order to bring about acceptance. There is no point in just knowing, acceptances require a shift in thought.
So what exactly is Autism and why acceptance?
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition and it affects how Autistics communicate and relate with people. They may also have difficulties with understanding and processing language. Some also struggle with sensory issues. Sensory difficulties may have a dramatic effect on their behaviour. Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all autistic people have certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.
Acceptance of Autism is a constant process; it calls for understanding, acknowledgement and conscious attempts to overcome intolerance of anything that is different from “normal”. Acceptance looks at unities shared and the innate strength in diversity. It says that its fine to be who you are, because that is what makes you uniquely you. Acceptance means educating yourself, and seeing the beauty of the exceptional skill set that each autistic has When true acceptance is found you will know that there is no place for labeling. Each person in this world functions differently each day, high and low and somewhere in between.
Lets make this month more than just Autism awareness, but Autism acceptance too. Let us celebrate the diversity and respect each other’s differences.
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March 21st we celebrate World Down syndrome Day. This date was chosen as it signifies the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome. It is a day that was declared by the United Nations General Assembly, to be observed upon and to grow awareness of Down syndrome. Raising awareness of this condition ensures that the facts are brought to light. Myths and misconceptions are dismissed and in doing that mindsets and attitudes can be changed positively.
What is Down’s syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. It is important to note that each case of Down syndrome is very unique and each child diagnosed with Down syndrome has different physical and intellectual needs. Persons with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. At conception, a baby inherits genetic information from its parents, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. It is the extra genetic material that causes the physical features and developmental delays associated with Down syndrome. The chances of Down syndrome increase with advancing maternal age. However, interestingly enough, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
For a parent there is so much unknown about the future of a child with Down syndrome. Whether they will have health complications, will they learn to do all the things typical kids do; walk, talk, read, and attend school? Will they live independently as adults, and work meaningful jobs or even marry? The reality is that early intervention and medical advances have changed the face of Down syndrome completely. Better teaching approaches are helping young people with Down syndrome achieve more, ensuring a brighter future.
Stars and advocates
Here are just few stars that have risen above their diagnosis and who advocate for Down syndrome:
Chris Burke – actor, singer, writer, and dedicated self-advocate. Well known for starring in the television series “Life goes on” His parents were told to have him institutionalized when he was born, they however decided otherwise, and raised him at home with his siblings. His talents were nurtured, and he was supported in all he did. He has also been the Goodwill Ambassador for the National Down syndrome Society since 1994.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Jamie Brewer – an actress best known for her role in the television series “American Horror Story” She grew up with a love for all forms of art. She is first woman with Down syndrome to walk the red carpet at New York Fashion Week.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Lauren Potter– an actress, known her for role on “Glee” President Barack Obama appointed her to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, in November 2011,where she advises the White House on related issues.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
People with Down syndrome have several challenges that they have to face, but thanks to recent advances in medical treatment and social inclusion, the life expectancy as well as the quality of life has increased significantly.
Tell us in the comments about your experiences with Down’s syndrome.