Today’s blog: Speech Pathologists supporting Adolescents. Can We Help? and How? 

Adolescence can be a challenging time – regardless of whether you have difficulties with speech and communication! However, we know that adolescents with communication difficulties report feeling social awkwardness, discomfort and anxiety when communicating. Communication is critical to forming relationships and interacting with others on an everyday basis, and when this is difficult for adolescents, speech pathologists (including our team at Active Speech) are available to help. 

One of the main differences between treating a child and treating an adolescent is that adolescents are often more aware of the difficulties they have, and can have more intrinsic motivation to work toward their goals. Because being able to make friends and be accepted by their peers is so important during adolescence, accessing speech therapy to help them in these areas can set them up to be more successful socially and psychologically in the long term. 

What do speech pathologists treat when working with adolescents?

The team at Active Speech Pathology supports adolescents with a number of different communication difficulties, including the following:

  • speech: producing the sounds for speaking
  • language: being able to understand what is said and express oneself 
  • literacy: the ability to read and understand written language
  • social skills: the ability to interact with others, including verbal and nonverbal communication

Speech pathologists provide assessment and treatment for adolescents in all of these areas. Assessment and therapy for adolescents typically occurs in a clinic or school setting, although it can take place in other settings as well. Depending on the type of therapy or setting, it may occur one-on-one or in a group. 

One of the main areas that affects adolescents in the classroom is language. Difficulties with receptive language can make it challenging for adolescents to follow directions, understand a book they are reading, or understand the important subject-specific vocabulary needed for an exam. Difficulties with expressive language can cause issues with writing assignments, explaining what they know about a subject area, or participating in group discussions. Not only can speech pathologists work with these adolescents to improve these skills, they also make suggestions to teachers about how to support these adolescents in the classroom.

What do speech pathologists do to help adolescents? 

When working with adolescents, speech pathologists may incorporate some of the following techniques for older clients:

  • helping the client to recognise and set the own goals
  • encouraging independence and responsibility for their progress
  • incorporating relevant school assignments to target goals within context
  • using examples from everyday life, especially for social skills
  • motivating clients by explaining how improving in these areas can help them reach goals of making friends, pursue relationships and obtaining (and maintain) a job.

Speech and language disorders in adolescence can affect a young person’s literacy skills and academic success. It can also lead to behavioural, social and emotional issues in adolescence and later in life. It is essential that adolescents with these difficulties know that they can receive the help they need by working with a speech pathologist. It is also important for speech pathologists to make recommendations for how these adolescents can be best supported academically and socially in the classroom.  That’s a our goal at Active Speech Pathology.