Speech & Language Disorders

Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties

Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that has a neurological/genetic basis. People with Dyslexia have difficulty learning to read despite normal levels of intelligence and exposure to the teaching of reading. The severity of Dyslexia can vary from mild to severe. The signs of Dyslexia can be read on www.wikipedia.org/wiki/dyslexia. General Reading Difficulties (learning letters, blending sounds to make words, rhyming) can be detected in early pre-school/school years by a Speech and Language Therapist. Reading difficulties are highly associated with early Speech Difficulties.

Research into the causes of Dyslexia has highlighted lots of different factors such as: genetic pre-disposition (family history), underlying language difficulty (i.e. poor vocabulary/grammar) and speech difficulties.

Children and adults with Dyslexia can be prone to low self-esteem and anxiety about academic and literacy tasks. They are also likely to have difficulty with spelling, memory tasks and problem solving in math (due to lots of text).

Children with Speech and Language difficulties are at risk of developing Dyslexia with 50% likely to develop literacy problems. Hence early intervention to detect the problem is vital and this will allow for strategies and methods of teaching to be modified in order to facilitate classroom learning. Speech and Language intervention can also work on specific tasks which will help a person with Dyslexia to develop skills necessary for the foundation and development of literacy. Speech and Language therapy is likely to focus on areas such as:

  • phonological awareness ( ability to rhyme, detect sounds, blend sounds and play with words)
  • letter/ sound correlation
  • spelling rules and decoding
  • general expressive and receptive language which correlates strongly with literacy.

For more information and support for Dyslexia visit: www.dyslexia.ie

Voice Difficulties

It can come as a surprise to clients when they are advised by their ENT surgeon that they need to see a Speech and Language Therapist for their voice problems. All Speech and Language Therapists receive training in the treatment of voice disorder and some therapists subsequently specialise in this area.

Voice Disorders include: hoarseness, loss of voice, strain while speaking/singing, vocal nodules and breathing difficulties. These difficulties can occur in adults and children. They can be associated with the patient’s occupation, e.g. teaching, singing, acting, sales, customer service etc.

Deirdre Kiernan is a specialist in the treatment of voice disorders.

Deirdre will:

  • identify the cause of the problem
  • educate about vocal abuse
  • teach the client exercises to reduce tightness in the larynx
  • increase the stamina of the voice
  • examine and massage the muscles of the larynx if they are constricted
  • teach correct breathing techniques for speaking and performing
  • teach the client to self monitor strain in the larynx