Speech Language Pathologists, also known as Speech Pathologists or Speech Therapists help individuals with a wide range of disorders involving language, speech and swallowing. These professionals may work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and specialty clinics. Normally a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology is the minimum educational requirement and these programs normally require supervised clinical experience as well. Both the degree and the clinical experience are required for licensing in most states.
The Speech Language Pathologist will diagnose and treat children or adults who suffer from stuttering, and vocal and cognitive communication impairments and disabilities. They can also help those whose speech is affected by emotional issues, physical impairments such as a cleft palate and various learning disabilities. In order to accomplish these tasks the speech pathologist will conduct specialized testing and provide therapy designed for the individual’s needs. Collaborating with physicians, psychologists and teachers and carefully monitoring the patients progress is part of the job as well. The speech pathologist keeps long-term records on their patients in order to assist them with any problems or difficulties that may arise throughout their lives.
Besides the normal voice and speech therapy the speech pathologists may also assist patients who have been in accidents or traumatic incidents to learn or relearn property swallowing techniques. Paraplegics, stroke victims and the recently deaf will sometimes retain the services of a speech pathologist to help make their speech patterns more normal. The speech language pathologist may also provide support and therapy to the patient’s family members to help with social integration and recovery.
The Speech Language Pathologist is a professional who is concerned with evaluation, treatment and research in human communication and its disorders.
They design and implement comprehensive treatment plans to achieve the following:
- Assist the patient to develop proper control of the respiratory and vocal systems for correct voice production
- Assist the patient to learn correct production and use of speech sounds
- Help children and adolescents with language and speech problems, such as giving and understanding directions, asking and answering questions, using and understanding English grammar, conveying ideas to other and using appropriate social language
- Help patients who stutter to increase the amount of fluent speech and coping skills to assist them in coping with their disorder
- Help patients who have suffered from strokes or other brain trauma to relearn language and speech skills
- Help to educate the community and individuals how to prevent speech and language disorders
- Educate and counsel patients with speech and language disorders and their family members or caregivers to help them understand the disorders and to communicate more effectively in social, educational and vocational settings.
- The Speech Language Pathologist does not work under direct medical supervision and is autonomous although they do work closely with social workers, psychologists, physicians, teachers and rehabilitation counselors in order to provide the best outcomes for their patients.
- The Speech Language Pathologist may also use their skills in other ways such as:
- Administration or management of agencies, organizations, clinics or in private practice
- Educate and train future professionals in universities and colleges
- Participate in medically related research, academic research or laboratory research to research the human communication process
- Developing new equipment and treatment methods to test and evaluate patients
- Investigate behavioral patterns associated with communication disorders and establish more effective treatment programs