Speech pathology is the study and treatment of the speech mechanisms, in relation to a healthy and intelligible voice production. A fruitful voice production encourages an individual to achieve and appreciate the advancements that cultivates through human communication. Intelligible communication is critical within speech therapy, as it is often the aspiration of the client. Within speech pathology the scope of practice is broad, leading to populations with a variety of impediments. The body is substantial during speech therapy, as it is forced to change to achieve intelligibility to an unfamiliar listener. There are many circumstances where two clients may share a similar impediment but their bodies react, adapt and recover differently.
Although, speech pathology is heavily concentrated on the speech mechanisms such as, the larynx, the vocals folds, the lungs and the trachea, it is imperative to remember that the body as a whole, is essential during speech processing and production. The body offers its own language, the language of the body is understood without words. Within the profession of speech language pathology it is important to recognize bodylore as a viable methodology because without the body, the speech mechanisms would not exist. However, without the speech mechanisms, the language of the body will still be understood. The body is the foundation of speech pathology and should be appreciated as such.
Check out: The Body and Speech Pathology
The body is equipped with neurological processes and productions used to developed and successfully create speech. The body facilitates these processes and productions, allowing speech to be produced instantly. With speech pathology being my major, I have taken many speech pathology specific courses. During my voice and fluency course, my professor always told us to remember that there is a person with a body of feelings behind the therapy. As a clinician, it is important to consider the whole body during therapy. The body offers explanations, being the voice for the client when the speech mechanisms are impaired. Each client has a story, some clients are more vocal at expressing their story but the body of the client tells a story of its own.
Communication is necessary to achieve a happy and healthy life. Communication is not limited only to verbal, it also includes Sign and written language. Sign and written language rely heavily on body movement and body expression. The body uses sign language to adapt and compensate due to the hearing mechanisms being impaired. Sign language is a form of communication that is highly engaged with the body. The body physically mimics the voice box in order to achieve maximum intelligibility while remaining voiceless. Sign language uses tactile senses, facial expressions and movement to convey a detailed message.
Written language is similar but it concentrates on one physical aspect of the body, the fingers. The body turns thoughts into written words as a form of communication. Written communication is complex, as the body has to formulate fluid thoughts into solid words by the activation of the nerves and muscles within the hand. Forms of communication is boundless, the body can exemplify different types of communication at once. The body is made to adapt and adjust in order to provide contentment and habitation.
Check out: Body Language and Sign Language
Speech impediments can be congenital or acquired. Impediments that are acquired can be due to a client straining or frying their vocal folds, while trying to obtain a voice that they do not typically acquire. This is popular for individuals within the entertainment business. Singers and actors can strain or fry their vocal folds while trying to go above or below the average fundamental frequency of their voice. The body is furnished with a structure called the false vocal folds. The false vocals folds help ease the over compensation. This is a protection mechanism for the body, the body is attempting to protect itself from the straining or frying. For example, singers like Adele, go below their average fundamental frequency, frying their vocal folds, making them harsh and dry.
With communication being a fundamental aspect of conveying ideas and thoughts, there are a variety of impaired clients within different age groups, genders, and pathologies, that wish to receive therapy. There are many transgender clients that see a speech pathologist during their transition. They are seen for voice therapy, as they aspire to achieve their desired voice for their perceived gender. This type of therapy is less invasive towards the body, as it a gradual process being done by a specialized speech pathologist. Although, this process is not harmful, it is time consuming, the body is being forced to adapt to a new fundamental frequency. According to J. Thornton, in the article “Working with the Transgendered Voice: the Role of the Speech and Language Therapist,” the role of a speech pathologist during therapy with a transgender client, is to aid them in acquiring flexible communication and enabling them to pass in all social and occupational situations. The goal is for the listener’s perception to match the individual’s perception of their gender.
As a speech pathologist it is imperative to educate others, engage with the process of body acceptation and appreciation during therapy. It is not rare, to have a client who is frustrated with their body due to the servility of their impairment. This is extremely common within clients who acquire a speech impairment. Acquired impairment patients have a difficult time adapting to the limitations of their speech. This is an example of why it is critical to included embracement of the body during therapy. It is understood, that during therapy the target is to aid a client in successfully communicating to the best of their ability. With the speech mechanisms being the focal point of therapy, it becomes counterproductive, to not account the body that is storing, protecting and nourishing those mechanisms. The body deserves to be acknowledge during therapy, as it can give explanations, aid with progression and breakthrough limitations.
Kemi Pollock is a senior at Old Dominion University. She majors in Speech Pathology, and she plans to continue her education with speech into her Masters. She currently holds many leadership positions on campus, as well as being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated. She enjoys shopping, reading, and eating! She also enjoys self-love, which includes anything that will make her healthy and happy, including spending her time having good laughs with genuine people!