There are so many types of speech disorders, and many of them have something to do with the way a patient breathes. If you are a speech pathologist, you are probably aware of the many ways in which “wrong” breathing aggravates disorders, and regulated breathing exercises can improve a patient’s condition.
For instance, a stutter is at least partially rooted in a lack of coordination between breathing and speaking. Most people are able to perform the processes around each other quite naturally, but stutterers often have a hard time pacing their inhalations and exhalations in such a way as to allow normal speech.
Breathing is also connected to the aspects of speaking disorders that are all in a patient’s mind and feelings. Many speech impediments or disorders have psychological roots as well, as demonstrated by the fact that bouts are more likely to happen when the patient is nervous or distressed. Deep breathing exercises can help to keep a person calm, not just when he or she has to speak, but an overall calmness and mental clarity that will help his/her general psychological health.
Also, as pathologists know, not all speech impediments involve an inability to get the words out. A person may be unable to mentally form coherent sentences, while at the same time speaking so rapidly that he/he is unintelligible. This disorder is known as cluttering, and also has linguistic aspects. Breathing exercises may make a person more mentally disciplined and able to control their linguistic ability. They may also be better able to access their memory, a significant help for disorders when the patient feels that he/she is suddenly unable to remember words.
Some speech disorders are the result of a stroke. In that case, breathing exercises will probably be included in other aspects of the patient’s post-stroke therapy, already. Still, you should ensure that breathing exercise routines include procedures especially designed to restore normal speaking, insofar as that restoration is possible.
Regulated breathing has uses outside the treatment of severe cases of speech disorders, and may even be applied to improve the speech of the general population. After all, if one follows the strict rules, one must conclude that the “normal” speakers are a minority in the population. Most people have some slight ailment or impediment, and this is not a big problem. It is only the very grave cases that get brought to specialists. Still, even people with very mild, near undetectable disorders can benefit from proper breathing. Perhaps some of your loved ones are like this. You might even be one, yourself.
Of course, breathing therapy is not everything. There are certainly other components, such as memory and enunciation exercises, or even surgery, if the disorder has something to do with the formation of speech-related organs like the larynx. There are also the extremely grave disorders, which are so bad that they render a patient mute. Breathing therapy is likely to have only limited effectiveness there. Still, knowledge of breathing exercises and their effects is an indispensable tool in a speech pathologist’s arsenal.