What Happens in Speech Therapy for Adults?

Category: Medical Information | Occupational Therapy

A female speech therapist is helping a young adult female patient inside of a clinic.

Considering that speech therapy is more common for children, some may not even think about speech therapy for adults. However, there are a lot of valid reasons someone may choose or need to attend speech therapy as an adult. The most common reasons an adult may require speech therapy tend to be because of illness or injury. For example, according to the Cleveland Clinic, a speech disorder called dysarthria is more common with conditions that primarily affect adults, such as certain neurological diseases, dementia, suffering a stroke, or other types of brain injury.

Speech therapy for adults can help with anything from a mild stutter or training yourself to talk without an accent to neurological injuries that have significantly altered your speech. Keep reading to learn more about speech therapy for adults.

What is speech therapy? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, speech therapy encompasses multiple therapeutic services that treat issues with communication on various levels and/or issues with swallowing.

What does speech therapy do? 

The Mayo Clinic notes that speech and language therapy for adults strives to help patients learn (or re-learn, as is often the case for adults) to speak clearly, comprehend what is being communicated, and maintain the ability to swallow food without risking choking.

What happens in speech therapy for adults? 

Speech therapy for adults begins by seeing a speech-language pathologist (AKA: a “speech therapist”) to evaluate what your particular issue with speech may be. Your speech therapist will then prescribe a plan to treat your unique speech problem.

After you’ve been diagnosed, your speech therapist will assign exercises to address your specific issue. Treatment will vary depending on the speech issue (and the severity of the condition) you are dealing with. For example, someone who is beginning to experience trouble remembering certain words will only need mild therapeutic techniques to help them stay sharp and communicate without frustration. In comparison, someone who cannot speak at all will likely require extensive speech therapy to begin speaking again.

Some exercises that can be done at home include:

  • Playing word games
  • Reading aloud
  • Puckering your lips and then relaxing them (repeatedly doing this can strengthen the muscles in the lips)
  • Tongue exercises
  • Smiling

What types of problems can speech therapy help me with? 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, speech therapy for adults can be extremely helpful in treating the following conditions:

  • Stuttering – when speech is temporarily disrupted.
  • Dysarthria – a condition in which the muscles controlling speech have weakened, which is usually caused by damage to the nervous system.
  • Aphasia – struggling to communicate your thoughts and understand what others are saying.
  • Apraxia – a condition caused by brain injury that causes a person to have trouble getting signals from the brain to the muscles that control speech.
  • Dysphasia – struggling to swallow.
  • Dysphonia – encompasses disorders that affect the vocal cords.

How can speech therapy help those with Autism? 

According to Autism Speaks, speech therapy can be a vastly beneficial tool for those on the autism spectrum. For adults with autism, speech therapy can assist those who are non-verbal with finding other ways to communicate. It can also help those who can speak, but struggle with communication, better communicate with others and learn to interpret social cues.

What causes problems with speech in adults? 

The most common causes of speech issues in adults are caused by illness or injury (such as a brain injury or a disease-causing muscle weakness). According to the Cleveland Clinic, the following conditions can affect speech in adults:

  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Possible side effects of certain medications
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Myasthenia gravis

Benefits of speech therapy for adults: 

Not only can speech therapy help patients relieve anxiety regarding their social life, but speech therapy for adults can have the following benefits as well:

  • Gain skills to communicate emotions and concepts
  • Improved quality of life
  • Greater ability to swallow
  • More self-confidence
  • More self-reliance
  • Improved vocal function

More severe cases — what is cognitive speech therapy for adults? 

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), cognitive speech therapy is recommended for those whose speech has been affected by severe or ongoing brain damage due to illness (such as Alzheimer’s disease or a brain tumor) or injury (such as a stroke or severe head trauma). This type of speech therapy is extensive and tends to be reserved for those who are becoming unable to care for themselves due to severe speech issues and/or cognitive impairment.

Exploring the Benefits of Speech Therapy

Don’t waste time struggling with communication when help is available to you. Speech therapy for adults is a great tool that can help with various speech difficulties. Whether it’s a mild stutter, beginning to have trouble finding the right words, or severe issues with communication due to brain injury; speech therapy for adults can help.

If you or a loved one needs speech therapy to recover from an illness or injury, check out Haven Health’s individualized services to find the treatment that is right for you.


Cognitive-Communication Referral Guidelines for Adults.

Dysarthria. (2020).

Specialties, Services & Treatments.

Speech-Language Pathologist. (2023).

Speech Therapy. (2022).

Speech Therapy