The many positive results of speech therapy

When you think of speech therapy, you quickly think of help for children who have problems with their speech skills. But this is only a small part of the problems that can be positively treated with speech therapy. Moreover, speech therapy is for young and old. Speech therapy is not age-related. The treatment can have a positive effect for everyone, from young to old. However, speech therapy usually provides faster and earlier results for children than for adults. This is because children are generally more open-minded in life and are more likely to pick up something new. They are therefore also able to unlearn an incorrect method and learn a good method more quickly.

Research into problems in communication

Speech therapy is a science that is intended to conduct research into problems in the field of communication. This problem can have various causes. The most obvious causes are problems with speech and language. This is not surprising. Reading and spelling problems are the result of language weakness, almost everyone has heard of the diagnosis of dyslexia and speech problems are immediately noticeable. But the entire treatment area of speech therapy includes, in addition to language and speech, also voice, hearing and swallowing.

Treatment of problems in communication

Speech therapists treat all kinds of communication problems. Speech therapist is a paramedical profession and therefore falls under healthcare. In addition, speech therapist is also a fairly established profession. They can work in their own practice, a partnership, but also in the practice of a colleague, whether or not in a hospital or another nursing institution and even at schools, companies and cultural institutions.

Referral to speech therapy

Speech therapy can be initiated by the client himself, but more often a teacher, employer, general practitioner, ENT specialist, dentist, orthodontist or physiotherapist will issue the indication for speech therapy.

In the past, a referral to speech therapy had to be made via the GP, regardless of who had issued the indication for this. This has changed since August 1, 2011 and speech therapy has become freely accessible. This means that a client can in principle register directly with a speech therapist. There are very occasional cases in which the client must first visit the GP for a referral. This becomes immediately clear during the intake.

Reimbursement of speech therapy

Speech therapy treatments are fully reimbursed by health insurance, provided that the speech therapy is necessary. The client does not need to have additional insurance for this, speech therapy is included in the basic insurance package.

Speech therapy for primary school students

In both primary and secondary schools, there are students who drop out with minor to very serious learning, reading and spelling problems. Remedial teaching, tutoring and extra homework do not always have the desired result. Speech therapy can provide a solution in many cases, more often and in a broader area than you might initially think. Treatment consists of tests, exercises, games and retesting.

Reading and spelling problems

Many speech therapy practices have partnerships with primary schools. When there is coordination between the language method at school and the spelling rules of the speech therapy practice, reading and spelling problems can be treated effectively.

Spelling rules

If there are persistent spelling problems, speech therapy treatment will start from scratch. Even for upper primary school pupils, going through and repeating all the spelling rules can ultimately lead to very good results. In principle, we work with a fixed series of exercises that are completed per spelling rule. The positive effect can be further increased by practicing at home and treating the same word category as at school. A collection folder with all spelling rules summarized is an effective tool during treatment, practicing at home and lessons at school. In the beginning there will be a lot of research, but over time this will be used less and less often.


During speech therapy treatment, the emphasis will be on reading in almost all cases. Many reading exercises will be done and a reading test will also be taken regularly to determine whether the treatment is already having an effect. The speech therapist then immediately has an idea of where the problems are decreasing, require more attention or need a different approach. Reading is tested by, among other things, reading lists of words, sometimes with non-existent words, and reading stories. In addition, reading is encouraged by offering its own library from which the client can borrow books. There are speech therapists who work with a book list. When the client has completely read a book, it can be put on the personal book list, possibly with an appreciation for the book. If a full book list entitles you to a reward, this can be an extra incentive to read even more.


Speech therapy treatment can also increase the client’s vocabulary. The vocabulary is divided into active and passive vocabulary. The active vocabulary consists of the words that the client uses when speaking and writing. Passive vocabulary consists of words that the client knows and understands, but has not yet applied themselves. The active vocabulary can be tested and expanded through reading, storytelling and writing assignments, and the passive vocabulary can be tested and expanded by naming and giving meaning to images shown.

Language content

A concept that is often used to indicate problems with the content of language is semantics. Semantics is a broad concept that stands for the theory of meaning. This includes giving a meaning to a word or object, naming an object with a word and being able to make a connection between words from the same semantic field. The explanation for this is also very broad. For example, it may involve establishing a connection between words with the same meaning, such as sidewalk and pavement, but also indicating the connection between words that belong together in terms of theme, such as mixing bowl, spatula and dough. Semantic ability can be tested, practiced and improved with the help of showing images. This method is comparable to the method used for passive vocabulary.

Language form

There may also be problems in the development of the language form. This occurs with speech and hearing problems, as well as with reading and spelling problems. These problems are most common at the level of phonology. The client then appears to have difficulty recognizing and processing different sound forms. For example, ball can be said or written instead of pal. This problem can be treated with speech therapy by doing many exercises in the form of listening, writing and reading, especially out loud. The spelling program is a good help here.

Reading comprehension

It is obvious that reading problems have a direct negative effect on reading comprehension results. If there is also a small vocabulary or a weak semantic ability, the problems with reading comprehension will be even more serious. When semantic ability and vocabulary increase, problems with reading comprehension will also decrease and may even disappear. During speech therapy treatment, additional reading comprehension practice can be provided.

Verbal working memory

Not everyone can remember the same amount and not everyone has the same working memory. But the size of a person’s vocabulary and semantic ability does influence the size of a person’s verbal working memory. If, during the course of speech therapy, the vocabulary expands and the semantic ability increases, the verbal working memory will also increase.

Dealing with problems at school

If a client has problems at school with only reading or spelling, better results will immediately be seen in the areas of reading, spelling and language if the treatment is successful. If, in addition to reading and/or spelling problems, there are also problems in the areas of vocabulary, semantics and phonology and there is also a small verbal working memory, then if the treatment is successful, there will be a general improvement. can be seen. Learning problems can decrease significantly or even disappear. Better test results will be achieved, higher grades on tests will be achieved and the pace of work will also increase. You no longer have to literally pound something into a small working memory for hours. More meanings can now be independently assigned to one concept. There are options to absorb, understand and apply material more quickly. This can ensure that even the Cito test or school leaver test at the end of primary school is improved and a higher level for further education is possible. Speech therapy can even provide training for this. When there is dyslexia, a more specific treatment is almost always applied and the speech therapist is usually only a referrer to a specialist center where the treatment is taken over.

Nowadays, virtually no problem and treatment is the same, almost every speech therapist does it differently and clients approach it differently. This also applies to the final effects. Fortunately, there are more positive than negative results and doing something is always better than doing nothing

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