need speech therapy

Tips to explain to adolescence ‘why’ they need speech therapy

Tips to explain to adolescence ‘why’ they need speech therapy

Working with teenagers can be described as gravity. It is easier to work with it than against it. This age is seen as the most difficult one. All of us have the perception that teenagers are difficult to tackle. They are rebellious and argue about everything. Today’s parents have one more thing to worry about their phones. In all this, we forget the ‘why’. Why do teenagers act the way they do. Firstly, they are going through a myriad of emotions and changes. Secondly, they are working their way to adulthood. They are figuring out themselves and the people around them. Lastly, let’s not forget the ‘peer pressure.

To add to all this, if your teenager has a speech or language issue; it will aggravate the situation. Here are some tips to explain to teenagers ‘why’ they need speech therapy. This blog is for parents and therapists.

Why do teens need speech therapy?

Teens need speech therapy for various reasons.

  1. Articulation disorder – they may have difficulty pronouncing some words. Some sounds may be distorted, omitted, or substituted. For example, they may say sheven or seven. Here the s is distorted. This issue can be from childhood and left uncorrected. It can also develop as a part of mislearning. Another cause is trauma to the mouth or side effects of braces.
  2. Stuttering – This is having hesitations or blocks in speech. For instance, mmmmy name is pipiyush. Again, this can be since childhood and left untreated. It can also develop in teenage due to environmental changes around them.
  3. Social skills issues: teenagers have difficulty in social scenarios only. For instance, the inability to maintain eye contact. Difficulty in starting or maintaining a conversation. Difficulty in reading body language. They will have difficulty understanding figurative language. This can be caused to undiagnosed ASD. Other causes may be a history of speech and language delay.
  4. Voice disorders – teens for through voice changes. If a male still has a female-like voice. Or if a female has a male-like voice. In this case, they will need speech therapy. Other than this psychological issues can cause spasmodic dysphonia. Vocal abuse will also lead to a voice disorder. Speech is necessary for these problems.
  5. A pre-existing expressive language delay.
  6. Executive functions issues – these teens, will have a spectrum of issues. For instance, issues with working memory, impulsivity, attention, and problem-solving.
  7. Other than this, all pre-existing issues such as cerebral palsy, any syndromes, language delay, and ASD will require speech therapy.

Why are communication skills vital for teens?

Communication skills are vital for everyone. They are more vital for teens as they are paving their way through adulthood. This will shape their future and personality. In that phase, it is essential for their academic success. To speak in lectures and participate, they need to feel confident.

This will also help them build a good bond with peers and teachers. Many jobs require good speaking skills. Hence, starting early will be better. By improving their speaking skills they will feel more confident and prepared for life.

What speech therapy looks like for teens?

An evaluation is done before starting therapy. Once the diagnosis is made, tailor-made goals are planned for teens. Sessions vary subject to their individual and specific needs. Therapy sessions are one-to-one or group sessions. This depends on the needs and stage of the therapy. Parental support and practice are advised through the process. However, this is done u der the guidance of a speech therapist.

Teens will feel embarrassed about attending these sessions. They may also see it as a burden. Our goal is to reduce the negative thought process and bring in a more positive one. We do this by making the sessions fun and interactive. We involve them in goal making process. This will help them feel more connected to us and empowered. Sessions will have games, exercises, and outdoor activities to practice their speaking skills. These sessions can be short-term or long term depending on the severity of the disorder.

Tips to explain to adolescence ‘why’ they need speech therapy

It is difficult for teens to accept that they need help. They will be rebellious, talk back to you, and even miss their sessions. Hence you must communicate with them effectively.

  1. One vital thing is getting down at their level. I have seen this working in all my sessions. Reason with them or explain to them something they like or relate to. Some teens like video games, TV show characters, or sports. For instance, you can say XYZ’s character needs to work hard and update skills to move to the next level. Think of speech therapy as your battleground, where you need to update your skills to move to the next level. I know this is easier said than done. And you may need to repeat it a couple of times in different ways.
  2. Teens are learning to be adults. You can foster this learning by giving them choices and space. This goes the same for speech therapy. Give them space, don’t pry too much. Give them a choice, wherever possible. This will make them feel they are in control.
  3. Understand the why behind the behavior. If your teen is not practicing or refusing to attend therapy. Instead of anger or shaming, understand the reason behind this. It will help you find the solution and decrease these behaviors.
  4. Be fair, be firm and be friendly. Teens have a strong sense of justice. They can sense when you are being a hypocrite. Hence, you must talk to them fairly. Set boundaries and rules. Set consequences if not followed. Having said all this, do not forget to apologize if you do a mistake and be friendly with them.

Some more points

  1. Make the process about them. Whether it is practicing the task of going for therapy sessions. Teenagers are focused on themselves. They are evaluating the world with them at the center of it. Framing the conversation in such a way will make the process easy.
  2. Let them teach you skills learned by them in therapy. Teens like showing off something which adults don’t know. Letting teens be the expert on a matter is an excellent and affirming way to engage their interest and get them practicing.
  3. Rewards or praises may work for some teens. Make sure to be realistic. Give the promised reward if they have achieved the set goal.


Parenting or talking to teens can be difficult. Having said this all teens are not the same. Some may be more compliant and willing to go to therapy. Some may want rewards or see what they are getting out of it. Another group of teens wants independence and some just want to look cool. So these tips may not apply to all. Depending on the nature of your teen use any of these or a combination of teens.

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