What is Cognitive Speech Therapy?

What is Cognitive Speech Therapy?

Cognitive speech therapy is a type of therapy that works and focuses on a wide variety of speaking & communication skills,and is not only for those having difficulty speaking. Some of the areas cognitive speech therapy targets are language, and improving one’s general cognitive skills. Cognitive health includes such things as attention, focus and concentration, orientation, word retrieval, and executive function which refers to such skills as problem solving and reasoning. Cognitive disorders can range in severity, from mild impairments to more advanced conditions such as dementia. Working on these types of skills, especially cognition, can help to increase independence and quality of life.

Cognitive speech therapy is an essential step when it comes to identifying whether an individual is suffering from cognitive challenges related to age or if something else is at play. An experienced speech and language pathologist will perform a thorough evaluation and identify which challenges and weaknesses may be present. From there, the speech-language pathologist can create a custom treatment plan to improve overall cognitive health. Treatment plans typically involve cognitive brain exercises, strategies to compensate for various deficits, and long-term education and support for the individual as well as others such as loved ones and caregivers. If you want to learn more about cognitive speech therapy or start your journey with a speech therapist, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

How Does Memory Loss Affect Communication?

The process of memory involves many parts of the brain, including the temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes as well as the amygdala and hippocampus. How severe a memory impairment is depends on which parts of the brain are injured and how severe the trauma is. 

Someone who is struggling with memory problems will often find it hard to access or retrieve information that they already know or possess. Some of the skills that are affected are recalling names of people and objects, word retrieval, and communicating socially in general. Failing to remember names or faces or other relevant information at a social event can result in shame and embarrassment which can result in the person avoiding social interactions and shutting down altogether.

Cognitive and memory impairments significantly impact the persons’ communication abilities, even if they have no other speech or language difficulties. On the surface, communication skills may appear to be completely intact, meaning that speech sounds normal and the person is able to show they understand both written and spoken language. Their speech and language skills, however, may be significantly affected by memory loss, even if it isn’t immediately obvious to others. 

Memory disorders or memory loss can be very frightening and confusing for those affected, especially if the person doesn’t know what happened to them or what caused the memory loss. Imagine feeling confused or unsure about where you are, who the people you are interacting with are, and what the expectations of them are. This emotional distress can also have a significant effect on communication skills. 

How Does Cognitive Impairment Affect Communication?

Someone affected by a cognitive disorder will struggle to participate in conversations and other social situations. They will often have difficulty comprehending what is being said to them or may struggle to reply within an expected time frame. Some people with a cognitive impairment may find it challenging to speak clearly or communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively. They may also have difficulties related to reasoning and decision-making when communicating. Trouble remembering past conversations and experiences is also common. Responding in an appropriate or socially acceptable way is also often difficult for someone with cognitive impairment. It may appear that they lack a filter or express thoughts or feelings that aren’t appropriate or potentially hurtful to others. 

On top of problems with conversation, cognitive impairments can also make it hard to understand instructions, presentations, and media (tv, radio, etc,) Some people may also have trouble related to reading and writing skills, which can make completing certain tasks and retaining employment even more difficult. Help is always available and getting connected with a speech therapist online is easier than ever. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

How Do You Help Someone with Cognitive Decline?

People with cognitive impairment or decline may exhibit a wide range of behavioral problems that can be frustrating for loved ones and caregivers. These can include difficulties with communication in general, perseveration (fixation on/repetition of an idea or activity), aggressive or impulsive behavior, paranoia, depression, an absence of motivation, memory difficulties, incontinence, poor judgment, and wandering. 

For some people, the behavioral problems may develop early on, whereas others may experience their entire illness with only mild symptoms and issues. Most people with a cognitive impairment land somewhere in the middle, having good and bad days (or in some cases good or bad moments). It is important to anticipate that there will be highs and lows, and it is vitally important to maintain as much patience, compassion, and a sense of humor in order to help you manage challenging behavior. It’s important to remember that it’s the disease, not the person, causing the behavior.

When interacting with someone experiencing cognitive decline, it is important to keep language and messaging as simple as possible and keep your questions one at a time. If you are providing instructions or making requests, take special care to break them down into smaller pieces. For example, instead of saying “Would you like to come and sit down and have a drink?” say “Please come sit here. Here is a drink for you if you’d like it.” It is also important to allow adequate time to respond to each question, instruction or request.  

If the individual is exhibiting some symptoms that may pose a danger to themselves, such as wandering or poor judgment, this should be taken as an indication that the individual requires 24-hour supervision and care. 

Can a Speech Therapist Help with Memory Loss?

Speech therapy can be an incredibly valuable resource when it comes to helping someone who is struggling with their cognitive health or memory loss. Speech and language pathologists are experts in terms of providing guidance and support and strengthening and improving cognitive function. 

Speech and language therapy has been proven to be beneficial to adults struggling with memory loss due to a stroke, degenerative disease, or traumatic brain injury. Speech therapy can work to address memory and other cognitive deficits by stimulating specific areas of the brain and aid in improving speech as well as improving information retention.

People who experience memory loss typically struggle with certain aspects of speech and language, such as difficulties understanding and interpreting certain meanings, as well as basic grammar, sentence structure, and word formation. They may also struggle with speech articulation and the fluidity and prosody of their speech. Speech therapists are experts at targeting these types of challenges as well as using memory to stimulate new growth and learning. Often family members and loved ones are invited to join in therapy sessions, as familiar people can help to trigger past happy memories and positive emotions. 

If you or someone you care about is struggling with speech and communication skills related to memory loss or cognitive deficits, there is help available. Online speech therapy is an excellent resource that can benefit a wide variety of people who may be struggling with any number of challenges. Start your journey towards improved memory and communication skills and schedule your free introductory call today!