Speech therapy as a pedagogical science

Speech therapy as a pedagogical science. Starting from what the term itself means we find that Speech Therapy is made up of two Greek words: logos, which means word and paideia, which refers to education. The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defines it as a Set of methods to teach normal phonation to those who have pronunciation difficulties. But we can find other definitions from different authors. For Bust ( 1995) Speech therapy is an interdisciplinary science that studies the evolutionary processes of communication development to detect and prevent possible language delays or alterations, with a pedagogical implication that lies in the evaluation and intervention of alterations related to hearing, voice , speech and language.


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  • 1 What is the purpose of speech therapy?
  • 2 Indicators and symptoms
  • 3 The Field of Language Changes
  • 4 Intervention Models
    • 1 Features
  • 5 Pragmatic Action-Intervention in Speech Therapy
    • 1 Pragmatic Intervention
    • 2 Instructional approach
    • 3 How to optimize the context?
  • 6 Source

What is the purpose of speech therapy?

Speech therapy is aimed at the prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and comprehensive evaluation of disorders of human communication: be they speech or language disorders . The area of ​​action of speech therapy and the practice of the profession takes place in various settings: educational, linguistic, behavioral, clinical, etc.

Speech therapy was initially defined within the framework of the Special Education School Centers . Little by little, speech therapy, is making its way and making it extensible to the Ordinary Schools.

On the occasion of the School Integration Law for children with special needs, ( deaf and hard of hearing, Down syndrome , Cerebral Palsy, etc.) an important gap is opened, where prevention, diagnosis, stimulation, intervention and maintenance of the language area.

There are different teams that offer speech therapy treatments through Social Security and also through private offices.

Speech therapy, frequently, has at its disposal substantial contributions from numerous linguistic theories, from Psychology , Neurology, Pedagogy , Sociolinguistics, etc. As an example, we can cite several authors, who have given shape and content to Speech Therapy as a discipline, and their theories are the backbone of our profession, among them we can name: The Theories of Learning (Skinner, Osgood, Dollard and Miller), Innatist Theory (Chomsky), Biological Theory (Lenneberg), Sociolinguistic Theory (Halliday), Cognitive Theory (Piaget), Theories of the Soviet School (Vygotsky), Contextual Theory (Bruner) and Modular Theory (Rondal).

Indicators and symptoms

  • That it is not understood when the child speaks.
  • Frequently the child “eats sounds”, or adds other sounds.
  • Let him breathe with his mouth open.
  • Have a hard time making a sound.
  • You are frequently hoarse.
  • That it manifests that it does not listen well.
  • It does not discriminate noise from sounds.
  • Do not speak or speak very little.
  • That present very drastic changes in the voice.
  • That it presents physical alterations, for example: cerebral palsy, spina bifida, etc.
  • That it presents sensory alterations.
  • That it presents general delay in development and language.
  • It is easily off-center in any situation of daily life.
  • That he cannot follow simple linguistic slogans.
  • That it presents difficulties when it comes to writing or reading correctly.

The Field of Language Disorders

Speech therapy is a set of knowledge. What is the field of knowledge of speech therapy? It is the field of language disorders.

Speech therapy is a science that studies very different problems, both in quantity and quality. This causes difficulties in delimiting their field, as well as the different origins of the discipline itself. There are different orientations within speech therapy practice; there are different schools.

All this gives rise to a great variety and terminological confusion. The field of language disorders includes two aspects:

  • Research: the basic aspect, because it is the one that provides knowledge.
    • The intervention: the applied aspect.

The basic aspect is the one that is most neglected, with which speech therapy does not evolve.
The intervention cannot be based only on recipes, it must be based on knowledge. When speaking of speech therapy, he does not refer to rehabilitation, since language is a skill so he does not rehabilitate, he intervenes.

Intervention is a planned activity that starts from the first contact with the subject. It includes what traditionally differs in diagnosis and treatment and which today we call evaluation and treatment, but also prevention, guidance, counseling, etc.

Eg in dysphemias the most important thing is preventive intervention, in the form of advice to parents.

The speech therapist does not need to be diagnosed with a language problem.

Treatment can be called palliative intervention. Evaluation is the apparent equivalent of diagnosis, but this is just putting a label and the evaluation makes labels, looks for what is altered, evaluates what is the problem, the alteration.

The speech therapist does not rehabilitate. Speech therapy treatment may lead to physical rehabilitation, but that is not the goal.

Intervention Models

  • The intervention model par excellence in the clinical model (the traditional one), this speaks of diagnosis, pathology, etc.
  • Another more modern model understands language as a human activity that changes for better or worse (based on an evolutionary model). If it is for the worse we say that it is disturbed. Just as it is altered by a maladaptive change, it can be changed again for the better. In this way, a maladaptive altered language can be adapted to better and more integrative.


The traditional model is based on the organic, organic. The evolutionary is a behavioral model, language is a behavior, an activity.

There is no disease in language. Language is an activity, so it does not have a pathology; there are alterations that give rise to a maladjustment. The speech therapist should try to change it and adapt it better. You cannot talk about healing, there are total or partial changes. In traditional speech therapy the responsibility lies with the patient. In the model, the responsibility lies with the patient. In the modern, the responsibility is shared.
In the traditional model, however, the intervention revolves around the speech therapist. He orders, says, etc., while in modern speech therapy he is centered on the subject and this intervention depends on him.

  • The treatment will be changing with the subject and therefore the procedures should be changing together with the subject; there is interaction, the speech therapist is an interlocutor.
  • Clinical model, it is unidirectional, the speech therapist speaks and the patient listens.

Traditional speech therapy is empirical.

Modern speech therapy is instructional, it is related to an educational model that presupposes that we can introduce changes in language through instruction. Thus, instruction is a form of intervention and according to what we want to achieve in speech therapy, this is the most effective model.

Pragmatic Action-Intervention in Speech Therapy

Pragmatic intervention

The modern speech therapy model conceives language as an activity of the subject, a behavior that is learned and developed, that changes like any other behavior. This forces us to intervene, to look at how these learning processes are produced in subjects who do not present alterations.

If we look at the development of language we observe that it arises, which is learned in an interactive conversation context.

The pragmatic approach starts from this observation that the child learns to speak by talking, with an intention that is communication.

When we see language development and changes in it from this perspective, we use a pragmatic approach and we place more importance on usage than structure, functionality rather than correctness. (Thus when we speak of pragmatic action-intervention, we speak of evaluating communication. It leads us to conceive the speech therapy session not as a correction session, unilateral, but to introduce an interaction)
Speech therapy must be unidirectional and aimed at correcting the structure and more interactive, more focused on the subject and thus giving more importance to use. The speech therapist will be the same as a model, he is a conversational interlocutor of the child as well as a privileged interlocutor.

An important aspect derived from this idea is that the speech therapist must consider the intervention in terms of interaction, and that the relationship with the subjects is asymmetric. The speech therapist carries the weight of the conversation, which is something joint. Speech therapists must observe the strategies and practices of how adults speak to children; this is applicable to the speech therapist, as he must speak to subjects with language alteration.

Instructional approach

The pragmatic approach tells us that language changes take place in an interactional environment

The instructional approach leads us to analyze what are the variables that are working and what are the determining factors for these changes. Variables that determine change in these interactive contexts are studied. From these studies, joint tasks are designed to favor or provoke changes.

The instructional approach seeks to analyze the variables that influence changes in an interactive context and apply them in an interactive context.

The person responsible for maintaining the conversation is the speech therapist (asymmetry). This has to cover the gaps depending on the limitations, and you have to use tricks to keep the conversation going and to keep the asymmetry less and less.

In asymmetric conversation situations the experts are the fathers, especially the mothers. The speech therapist must also become an expert in asymmetric situations, in interacting with subjects with alterations.

It is based on seeing how the experts do it and trying to imitate them. The speech therapist must become an expert in communicating with people who have communication problems.

Therefore, one of the main schools for speech therapy intervention will be mothers (pay attention to the conversation with the children, as well as the children among them).
In speech therapy intervention, communicational objectives should prevail over linguistic or grammatical ones. This implies giving the child time and the opportunity to tell things, communicate. Above all, give him effective help.

Contexts must be created, and the subject must be clear that he is attending the speech therapy context to communicate with someone.

How to optimize the context?

  • Try to share with the subjects
  • You have to share the topic. It must be an issue of interest to both parties (not imposing). The subject is helped to raise a topic of interest, so that they try harder to communicate, and so that communication is more effective. Conversational asymmetry should not lead us to raise issues. We have to talk about what the subject is proposing to us, we must find out what interests him to communicate, adapt to the tastes of the subject.
  • Sharing time: the expert has a tendency to monopolize the conversation. In a speech therapy session what the subject learns is inversely proportional to what the speech therapist speaks
  • Negotiating meanings: learning to speak is nothing more than negotiating meanings. Teaching the language is negotiating with the subjects the meaning of the words.

Always use language appropriate to the subject following the model of experts to become experts.

Also the instructional strategies of the experts, which are not only given in language and are based on the idea of ​​how we learn new things.

The instructional approach on the one hand takes the experts as models and on the other, copies their strategies.

The most fertile line in this approach starts from the scientific observation idea that new learning occurs normally with the help of those who do it better and it is the context of shared tasks that we are learning to do alone is what at a given moment We do not know how to do it alone, but we do it with the help of someone (what we know how to do alone is done alone, what we do not know how to do, we can do it with the help of someone).

Instructional intervention is an intervention in the zone of proximal development. For this reason, a modern speech therapy based on this approach must have time to evaluate the subject


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