Speech Therapy Exercises & Activities for Adults

Instructor: Jennifer Moon
This lesson gives examples of adults in need of speech therapy exercises and activities, and outlines specific exercises and activities to meet those unique needs.

Speech Therapy for Adults

Adults who need speech therapy can have a wide variety of needs. They may have difficulty swallowing, producing certain speech sounds, speaking without stuttering, understanding and using language, and using the voice 'normally', among other issues. When adults seek speech therapy treatment, they have a problem that is serious enough to interrupt daily life. No matter the origin of the client's problem, speech therapists offer activities and exercises that can make the client's daily life easier.

The therapist's job begins before working directly with the client's communication or swallowing problem. An initial assessment with the client and, if appropriate, the client's family helps a therapist determine a treatment plan. What is the client's level of education? What does the client enjoy doing, both professionally and in spare time? Are the client's goals to communicate with family and friends or to give a presentation at a large convention? How motivated is the client to work?

Examples of Speech Therapy Activities and Exercises for Adults

Let's take a look at three different scenarios to understand the range of speech therapy issues, how they can affect individual clients, and exercises to address them.

Scenario 1

Cheri is a 67-year-old grandmother who loves cooking and talking with her family. She recently had a stroke and is unable to find the words she needs to talk to the ones she loves. She is frustrated by her new limits and not very motivated to work. Cheri's speech therapist, John, has spoken with her family and they have decided together what words are most important to Cheri to use in her daily life, based on her interests before her stroke.

With these details established, John plans specific exercises and activities for the client. He starts therapy by working on some of the common vocabulary around Cheri's house. John uses an iPad with pictures of actual items from the house that the family has provided, so that Cheri can relearn words like 'spatula' and phrases like 'set the table'. Cheri's interest and motivation increases when she finds that she gets to work on words that are important in her life.

Scenario 2

John is a financial advisor who speaks with clients throughout his work day. He has recently been diagnosed with vocal nodules, or thickened portions of the vocal folds from overuse of the voice. His therapist, Amy, begins by learning more about how John communicates throughout his day. He shares that he speaks to large groups as well as individual clients each week.

Amy begins John's treatment with education on the importance of using and caring for his voice in a healthy manner. She has gathered materials on the topic of finances, which are of particular interest to John, to increase his interest and motivation as he reads out loud. As John's skill increases over time, he is encouraged to practice outside of the therapy room, in spontaneous conversation. John and Amy agree to hold therapy at a local coffee shop to practice in another setting. John reports back to Amy the next week that he used his new strategies at a meeting where he was the presenter, and it went well. Encouraging for both client and therapist!

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