Speech Therapy Isn’t Just for Kids
Developmental Disabilities can affect communication into adulthood
Diagnosed before 22 years old, individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) have delays in reaching developmental milestones. These milestones include learning, motor abilities, vision, hearing, speech, and behavior. They may also have coexisting conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), down syndrome, and cerebral palsy (CP). These conditions may impact their speech, language, and feeding/swallowing skills into adulthood. The bottom line is that some adults need speech therapy too.
Adults and their communication partners need speech therapy
Communication may look and sound different for individuals with DD. Some individuals may use an augmentative and alternative communication device. An AAC device may be a communication app on an iPad, text-to-speech feature on a cell phone, or an eye-gaze device. These devices can either replace or supplement speech. Others may have difficulty producing clear speech, understanding information they read and hear, or using language successfully. Difficulties with these skills may also impact social communication. Social communication is more than having a conversation and using occasional eye contact. Some adults with DD struggle to understand verbal and non-verbal communication. For example, reading body language and understanding hidden social rules, following rules for conversation and understanding tone of voice can be difficult.
As a communication partner, it is helpful to understand the communication difficulties of adults with developmental disorders. It’s important to be patient when speaking with an adult with a communication disorder. Adults with DD, and other coexisting diagnoses, may require time to process and form sentences, and may have difficulty understanding those hidden social rules. Not only can speech therapists support adults with developmental disabilities, they can also help educate and train their family, friends and caregivers.
Seeking Help from a Speech Therapist
As individuals with DD grow into adulthood, it may be difficult to find the appropriate services they need. Many young adults with developmental disabilities “age out” of pediatric speech practices. However, they still need support as they transition into work and volunteer opportunities and strive toward independence. Speech therapy services focus on client centered goals and provide strategies to help adults with DD advocate for themselves, be effective communication partners, and succeed in their communities.
The clinicians at Adult Speech Therapy Services work with clients and their loved ones to develop functional communication goals to support successful life participation. Call us at 301-323-8486 today for a free consultation to discuss our approach to treatment. We look forward to the opportunity to help.