• Chantelle Vischer

Speech talk: Everyone deserves to be heard

Hello again! It is with the utmost pride that I share a blog post written by a friend of mine, Xandri Swart, a 4th year speech therapy student.

Now, Xandri might not be a fully qualified Speech Therapist just yet, but she is passionate about her field of study and to showcase that Brave Development attempts to cater for ALL of those working in the field of paediatrics, adolescents or young adults, I asked her to write a post from a student’s point of view. So sit back and relax while you learn so much more about the field of speech therapy.

“Oh so you help to fix people’s lisps?”, is often the response I get after telling someone that I’m studying speech therapy. Very few people seem to really understand just what exactly a speech therapist does, in fact a lot of people don’t even know that speech therapy exists. Even I, someone who wanted to study speech therapy for years, was surprised to learn that it entails so much more than what I had initially thought.

So this is my attempt at presenting the diverse field of speech therapy to you as simply and shortly as possible: Speech Therapists help individuals at all ability-levels communicate more effectively. This means we address all aspects of communication including speech, language, voice; as well as reading, writing and spelling difficulties. It also includes difficulties related to stuttering; as well for example teaching a child with a cochlear implant how to speak or teaching a non-verbal child with autism sign language.

Now, contrary to what people might think we don’t just work with children. Speech Therapists often work with adults, such as stroke or accident survivors, or individuals with other conditions such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. We also look at people’s cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, memory, reasoning and so on. Another area that we treat that very few people are aware of is swallowing. This ranges from breastfeeding difficulties to swallowing difficulties that result from strokes. Speech therapists can, therefore, be found not only in schools, but in hospitals, step down clinics, frail care, and many other settings.

Speech therapy took me by surprise, not only because of the broadness of the profession, but also because of the influence that it’s had on me, as a person. It’s challenged me to use my intellect in a combination with my humanity, and has taught me that not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say. Everyone has something important to say and everyone deserves to be heard.


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