School of Health and Human Services

Speech Language Pathology Adult Services

Speech-language evaluations and intervention are provided for adults with a variety of communication needs. Typical referrals and therapy techniques are listed below. Click on a category for more information.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC? From the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (

AAC is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve every day communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms such as: speech, a shared glance, text, gestures, facial expressions, touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, speech-generating devices, etc. Everyone uses multiple forms of communication, based upon the context and our communication partner. Effective communication occurs when the intent and meaning of one individual is understood by another person. The form is less important than the successful understanding of the message.


Difficulty: Using language to communicate. Limitations in gesturing, speaking, understanding, reading and writing.

Resulting from:

  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Other neurological disorders

Therapy emphasis: Improving overall communication skills and compensating for long term difficulties.

Cognitive/linguistic deficits:

Difficulty: Impaired communication due to altered thinking abilities. May include decreased attention and concentration, memory, organization, problem solving and abstract reasoning skills.

Resulting from:

  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multi-infarct dementia
  • Other neurological disorders

Therapy emphasis: Improve thinking, reasoning, planning and memory skills related to communication. Teach strategies to compensate for long term deficits.

Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease:

Difficulty with memory functions affecting independent living skills. Therapy would emphasize developing teachniques to maintain functional memory skills. See cognitive/linguistic deficits for further information.

Language-based learning disabilities:

Difficulty: Long term struggles with speaking, understanding information, reading and writing which may affect job performance and daily social interactions. Typical onset in childhood.

Resulting from:

  • Learning disability
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder
  • Language impairment
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Family history
  • Unknown cause

Therapy emphasis: Develop language and communication skills and strategies to promote success in education, employment and social settings.

Speech Sound or Articulation Disorders:

Difficulty: Speech sounds are unclear and hard for others to understand.

Resulting from:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cleft palate
  • Delay in acquiring age appropriate speech sounds
  • Developmental Apraxia of Speech
  • Genetic syndrome
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Oral motor delays/impairment
  • Phonological impairment
  • Second language learner
  • Unknown origin

Therapy emphasis: Facilitating clear speech development for effective communication.

Motor speech disorders:

Difficulty: Speech is difficult to understand.

Resulting from:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • ALS
  • Other degenerative neurological conditions

Therapy emphasis: Improving or maintaining clarity of speech. Augmentative communication systems can be implemented as needed.


Difficulty: Disruptions in the natural flow of speech that interfere with communication.

Resulting from:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Environmental factors
  • Unknown cause

Therapy emphasis: Improving overall speech fluency and communication effectiveness.

Voice disorders or hoarseness:

Difficulty: Voice sounds hoarse, harsh or unnatural; problems with pitch and loudness.

Resulting from:

  • Chronic laryngitis
  • Vocal abuse (i.e. excessive/faulty voice use)
  • Vocal nodules or polyps
  • Pitch breaks
  • Quiet voice
  • Cancer
  • Laryngectomy
  • Granuloma
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s, Amiotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), etc….)
  • Unknown cause

Therapy emphasis: Improving voice quality and function. Assistive devices may be used if needed (e.g. electrolarynx).

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