Most frequent questions and answers
Speech therapy is a profession that support children and adults with problems communicating and swallowing. It is an allied health profession, and is often grouped with physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Communication and swallowing difficulties can occur due to problem from birth, such as cerebral palsy or autism, or be the result of an accident or injury, such as a stroke or brain inury.
People with communication difficulties can be excluded from society, have trouble at school and find it hard to make relationships and find work.
Speech therapist are trained to assess, diagnose and treat people with communication and swallowing difficulties so that they succeed in their education, work and relationships and be an active member of their family.
Speech therapist have specialist knowledge in the areas of head and neck anatomy, linguistics, disability, hearing etc.
OIC Cambodia estimates that over 600 000 people in Cambodia need the support of a speech therapist.
However, currently there are no Cambodian university-trained speech therapists to address this problem, even though there are many Cambodian physiotherapists.
For people with swallowing problems who cannot see a speech therapist, this can mean they are at risk of choking or becoming malnutrition, which can lead to death.
For people with communication difficulties who do not get the support of a speech therapist, it can result in lifelong leaning difficulties, poor educational outcomes and limited work opportunities.
Speech therapist help a rang of people with a rang of difficulties, which include:
- Babies who have feeding problems due to a cleft palate, tongue tie or cerebral palsy;
- Children who have difficulty saying sounds correctly (speech disorders);
- Children who have difficulty saying sentences, thinking of words or putting words in the correct order (language impairment);
- Children who have autism and have problems understanding and interacting with other people;
- People who do not talk at all and use other ways to communicate;
- Children with hearing difficulties;
- Children with other disabilities such as Down Syndrome;
- Adults who have had a stroke or brain injury and lose their ability to communicate.
Currently there is just one private clinic in Phnom Penh that has foreign university-trained speech therapists (Happy Kids Clinic). Speech therapy course are at least 4 years in countries like Australia and the UK.
Other clinics operating in Cambodia have people practicing speech therapy who have done short training courses or workshops, but who have not trained at a university level.
Whilst these practitioners do have some good skills that can be helpful to children and adults, they do not have a deep knowledge of evidence based speech therapy practice that would allow them to provide a high quality of service.
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