The Magnitude of National Aphasia Awareness Month

Asphasia and Language

Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects over two million Americans, and the number of new cases is on the rise. In fact, the number of aphasia cases diagnosed annually is expected to double by 2020. If aphasia affects you or a member of your family, read on to learn more about what causes this disorder and how it can be addressed with speech language pathology.

Aphasia is always the result of a brain injury – it’s not a disease that occurs on its own. The most common cause of aphasia is a stroke, but it can also result from head injuries, brain tumors, or some serious infections. Typically, when damage occurs to the left half of the brain – the half that contains language – aphasia can result.

The symptoms of aphasia can vary greatly in severity from person to person. It can present itself as difficulty speaking, listening, reading, or writing. Intelligence is not affected by aphasia, and language skills can sometimes be recovered with therapy, depending upon the symptoms.

There are many different types of aphasia, and speech is affected differently with each type. For example, a person who has suffered damage to the front part of their brain may have broken, jerky speech but be able to understand what other people are saying to them. A person who has suffered damage to the back of their brain may be able to speak in a normal tone and rhythm, but have difficulty finding the right words, or they may make up words.

Aphasia symptoms often don’t fit neatly into a single category, and a person’s aphasia classification can change as their communication improves over time. It’s also possible for aphasia not to be the only communication disorder present. Sometimes aphasia occurs in tandem with language impairments such as dysarthia or apraxia.

Proper assessment by a speech pathologist is essential to ensure that the type and level of speech function available is appropriately identified. After careful assessment, a speech language pathologist can work with the affected person and their family to determine the types of therapeutic interventions to be pursued based on the person’s needs and goals. Through regular therapy, some of the symptoms of aphasia can be lessened and new methods of communication can be forged.

To begin therapy with a speech pathologist in Chicago, contact our office. To learn more about aphasia, visit www.aphasia.org

Understanding the True Reach of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease and Speech Language Pathology

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. This heartbreaking disease affects more than five million Americans, meaning that it reaches into tens of millions of homes. Alzheimer’s can be a devastating diagnosis for both the person afflicted and his or her family, as it currently has no cure.

The onset of dementia becomes more and more likely as a person becomes older – age is the primary risk factor, though genetics can also play a part. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disease that is characterized by memory loss and confusion, but the symptoms can also be physical, leading to greater difficulty over time completing every-day tasks. Alzheimer’s patients have diminishing function in their memory, reasoning, visuospatial ability, and behavior. One of the most frustrating aspects of Alzheimer’s is how it affects a person’s ability to communicate.

Confusion makes it difficult for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s to speak coherently with the people around them, because they may forget who they are. But beyond confusion, Alzheimer’s can make it difficult for people to successfully retrieve words. Word salad is also common – this is a symptom in which people use the wrong word, such as, “It’s time to take the sandwich for a walk.” While there is not yet a cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s specifically, some medicines and therapies can be used to help ward off the worst symptoms for as long as possible. For example, a speech language pathologist can help affected families better understand the connection between Alzheimer’s Disease and speech. They can work with your loved one to help them hold onto their communication skills and find new ways to communicate.

While the research is constantly developing, it does seem evident that the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and communication loss can be deterred by regular mental and physical exercise. For example, doing jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles can help keep the mind sharp. Once Alzheimer’s has been diagnosed, speech language pathologists can still use intervention strategies to help keep the mind active, manage symptoms, and maximize functional abilities.

An added benefit of working with a speech language pathologist is the support and information they bring to the table, for both the patient and their caregivers. To learn more, contact our team today! 

Common Speech and Language Disorders Among School-Age Children

Communication Disorders

School years are the best time to address speech and language disorders in children. When children deal with a speech disorder, it can lead to bullying, reduced participation and enthusiasm in class, low self-esteem, and a host of other issues. All of these concerns can be minimized with speech language pathology.

The first step is recognizing what problems might exist. Children can have a wide variety of speech language disorders, sometimes in combination. The most common include:

Speech Sound Disorders - More commonly known as articulation or phonological disorders, these sorts of issues are among the most easily identifiable speech-language disorders. Children often have difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, such as “S” or “R” sounds. Sometimes this problem is developmental and sometimes it requires therapeutic intervention. Speech language pathologists can help you recognize the difference.

Language Disorders - The two main types seen in children are Receptive Language Disorder – difficulty understanding what is read and/or heard – and Expressive Language Disorder – difficulty expressing oneself with spoken words and/or written words.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders - These disorders manifest as difficulty with critical thinking skills. These skills can include:

  • Following Directions
  • Reading/Writing Skills
  • Pragmatic Skills
  • Decision-making Skills
  • Memory Skills
  • Attention Skills
  • Reasoning Skills
  • Executive Functioning
  • Imagination
  • Problem Solving

Fluency Disorders - These are more commonly known as Stuttering Disorders. A stutter manifests as difficulty with the flow of speech. This may include sound, syllable, and word repetitions; hesitations; interjections; and prolongations of sounds or words. This is another easily identifiable set of speech-language disorders.

Voice Disorders - Speaking too loudly or softly, chronic hoarseness, or speaking nasally can all be signs of a voice disorder.

Properly Identifying Speech-Language Problems

If you suspect that your child may have a speech or language disorder, you should make an appointment with your school’s speech language pathologist. If your school doesn’t have a pathologist, or if you want outside help for any reason, BNM can help.

One of our speech pathologists can meet with your child to conduct a screening and determine if further evaluation is needed. If necessary, a full battery of tests can be done – all of which are simple and safe – in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your child’s speech-language skills. Goals and objectives can then be set, and the best method of therapy – individual, in a small group, or in the classroom, for example – can be discussed.

To learn more or to schedule a screening with a speech pathologist in Chicago, contact our team today

Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month

Celebrating Better Speech and Hearing Month

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) promotes BHSM every year in schools and corporations to help raise awareness about communication disorders and to highlight the true value of being heard.

This year, the theme of BHSM is “Communication: The Key to Connection.” When surrounded by people with more-or-less normal communication skills, we tend to forget just how fortunate we are to be able to speak our minds, listen to others, and exchange ideas freely and easily. When a problem interferes with that connection, the results can be isolation, loneliness, and self-doubt.

If you or someone close to you has difficulty communicating for any reason, celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month is a great way to bring attention to the need for more effective communication at every level of our society. If you’re looking for ways to recognize BHSM, ASHA provides a wide variety of resources on their website. If you’re feeling inspired to work on your own communication skills, we can help you with that.

Whether you’re the parent of a child who has difficulty communicating effectively or a professional who would like to work on your own speaking and presenting skills, a speech language pathologist can be an invaluable resource. Communication disorders range from mild stutters to the inability to form words. And of course, you don’t need to have any sort of disorder to know that your presentation skills could improve with a little coaching.

In a school setting, a speech pathologist can use exercises, activities, and positive encouragement to help your child gain confidence in their voice while strengthening their ability to make themselves heard and understood.

In a work setting, a speech pathologist can help executives recognize speech patterns that might be hindering their presentations and practice better posture, projection, clarity, and organization, among other skills. Whether you need confidence speaking in front of groups or more effective methods for getting through to your boss, executive speech coaching can have an astounding impact upon your career.

BHSM is a reminder of how strong communication skills can impact everyday interactions, academic performance, career path, and self-confidence. To learn more, contact our team today! 

 

Get a 15 Minute Screening with Our Executive Speech Coaches

Executive Speech Coaches in Chicago

In the business world, verbal presentations are an essential component of success. You can write reports, put together charts, and find other non-verbal ways to make a sale, share an idea, or solve a problem. But ultimately you need to be able to clearly state your case in order to achieve what you’re after. Effective verbal communication, which includes everything from tone of voice to organization of content, is simply critical.

With our executive speech coaching in Chicago, we help everyone from budding executives to experienced C-suiters find ways to improve their presentation skills. Everyone has room for improvement, and with a skilled executive speech coach on your side, you can learn how to take your presentations to the next level through private sessions (rather than in front of a full board room).

To show new clients what we have to offer, BNM is currently offering a free fifteen-minute screening with an executive speech coach in Chicago.

In just fifteen minutes, you’ll have the opportunity to show us a sample of your presentation style. We will then provide you with a quick and clear assessment of your skills. You will learn: 

  • How your presentation style is perceived by listeners
  • The effectiveness of your presentation’s organization
  • How well your voice comes across while presenting
  • Areas of strength to build upon
  • Areas of weaknesses that could use further work
  • Possible exercises and therapies that could improve your presentation skills

The fifteen-minute screening has no strings attached. You’ll be able to walk away with a better sense of where your presentation skills excel and where they could improve.

You’ll also learn how the executive speech coaches at BNM can help you take the skills you have to the next level. Your personal coaching plan will be tailored to your goals, your current skill level, and the areas that you are most interested in focusing on. Our speech coaches can provide you with a thorough understanding of how your executive speech coaching will work and what sorts of results you should expect.

To set up your free fifteen-minute screening, contact our team today

Helping Chicago Schools Provide Speech Pathology Services

Speech Language Pathologist Chicago

Schools in Chicago and across the country are in desperate need of qualified speech language pathologists. A school speech pathologist can help students with speech language disabilities ranging from articulation disorders to severe stutters. Students with speech disorders deserve to have experienced, knowledgeable people helping them move forward.

If your school or district is having trouble providing enough high quality speech therapy for students, BNM can help. We provide both long-term and short-term speech pathologists to supplement your staff and additional resources to help you better serve your students.

Why Speech Pathologists are Hard to Come By

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 29,000 additional speech language pathology jobs will need to be filled between 2014 and 2024. That marks a 21% increase in job openings. Elementary, middle, and high schools will struggle to find enough people to take their open speech pathology positions for a number of reasons:

There simply aren’t enough qualified people. Becoming a speech pathologist in Chicago requires post-graduated training, and most programs only take fifteen to twenty people per year.

Schools must compete with other districts, long term health care facilities, hospitals, home health and private practice job openings for qualified speech pathologists.

For many speech pathologists, working in a school setting usually means dividing time between too many students and dealing with constant paperwork, parent expectations, serious time constraints, and budget restrictions.

How BNM Can Help

Our team of qualified speech language pathologists are available to help fill gaps as they appear. If you’re having trouble finding a full-time speech pathologist, we can provide your students with all the services they need while you build your staff. If you find yourself with more students in need of speech therapy than you are currently able to handle, we can supplement your staff and help your students get the personal attention they deserve.

Effective speech therapy at an early age can help students gain confidence, improve their self-esteem, and feel empowered to express themselves, making them better learners. As you plan for the 2017-2018 school year, contact our team to learn more about how BNM can help your speech students find their voice. 

Top 5 Benefits of Working with an Executive Speech Coach

Executive Speech Coaching Chicago

Effective communication is one of the cornerstones of good business. Being able to communicate with peers, your boss, and clients is an essential part of any job and the key to greater success. Here are five abilities that you can gain from working with an executive speech coach in Chicago:

  • The ability to communicate effectively – If you have difficulty making the people around you understand your viewpoint for any reason, your career will inevitably suffer. Whether you have a speech impediment, a strong accent, or simply a few bad speaking habits, an executive speech coach can give you the tools to make your voice heard.
  • The ability to give compelling presentations – Maybe you’re fine communicating with people one-on-one, but in presentations you freeze up. Speech coaching can give you tools to calm your nerves, speak more clearly, and make your points hit home every time you give a presentation.
  • The ability to work with diverse clients – Perhaps your way of communicating works well in your high-paced, aggressive work environment, but it doesn’t go over very well with potential clients. Or maybe you’re used to doing most of your communicating via email, but now a company wants to do everything over the phone. Learning how to make yourself understood within a wide range of work cultures will help you take your career and your business further.
  • The ability to speak as well as you think – If you often find yourself rehearsing what you have to say in your head before actually saying it, or worse, never speaking up at all because you worry about how you’ll sound, executive speech coaching can help. Through practical exercises and personalized training, you’ll learn how to get your thoughts across with clarity and confidence.
  • The ability to move up the corporate ladder – Whether it’s fair or not, your way of speaking might be limiting your career growth potential. Learning how to speak more professionally can open a number of doors that you’re ready to walk through. 

Beyond these benefits, executive speech coaching in Chicago can help your whole team communicate more effectively with one another, facilitate honest feedback, and improve company culture. To learn more, please contact our team today.  

Speech Language Assessments vs. Speech Language Evaluations

Our clients are often curious about the difference between a speech language assessment and a speech language evaluation. Both are important tools for evaluating a person’s speech. The core difference is that assessments are used to diagnose speech issues before any sort of training, and evaluations are used to determine what progress has been made at the end of a training cycle.

Speech Language Assessment

A speech assessment is diagnostic in nature. During an initial assessment, the person being assessed will sit down with a speech language pathology professional and undergo a series of simple speech-based tests. The process shouldn’t be intimidating or overwhelming. With the information that the pathologist gathers, they will assess the person’s speech patterns, strengths, and weaknesses against some standardized and some non-standardized measures of speech and language skill. The goal is to diagnose any current issues and come up with a plan for addressing those issues in a constructive and supportive manner.

Speech Language Evaluations

After working with a speech pathologist for a while, it makes good sense to do a speech language evaluation. Evaluations are used to measure progress and re-assess how well current therapies are working. An evaluation may or may not utilize standardized measures of speech or language skill. Usually the goal of an evaluation is to measure individual progress, so standard metrics can be less useful. In school settings, evaluations are usually done no more than three years after speech therapy begins. In a corporate setting, an evaluation might be done a few weeks or a few months into training to help measure growth and determine whether adjustments should be made to the therapy routine.

Tools for Growth

Both speech assessments and speech evaluations are helpful tools for guiding individual speech therapy. By starting out with clear goals and regularly measuring progress toward those goals, students can get a better grasp of their progress, which may be hard to recognize without outside feedback. That’s one of the great things about effective speech therapy – your speaking habits will change and develop in a way that becomes second nature. You may not hear the difference, but the people around you surely will.

To learn more, or to meet with a speech pathologist in Chicago, please take the time to contact our office today.