What is A Speech Pathologist?

Twin girls with tin can telephone

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, (ASHA), and various other sources, speech-language pathologists work with the full range of human communication and subsequent disorders.

Speech-Language Pathologists:

  • Promote healthy lifestyle practices for the preservation of speech, language, voice, communication and/or swallowing disorders.
  • Recognize the need to provide appropriate diagnostic and treatment services to individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and tailor the assessment and treatment services accordingly to meet the specific needs of the individual.
  • Advocate for individuals through community awareness, education, and training programs to promote and facilitate access to full participation in communication thus minimizing/eliminating the social barriers.

Speech-Language Pathology services begin with initial screening and/or assessment for speech, language, voice, communication and/or swallowing disorders and continue with the consultation for the provision of advice regarding management, intervention/treatment, in addition to the provision of counseling and other follow up services for the disorders listed below:

  • Cognitive aspects of communication, (i.e., attention, memory, problem solving, executive functions)
  • Language (i.e., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatic/social aspects of communication) including comprehension and expression in oral, written, graphic, and manual modalities, language processing, preliterate and language-based literacy skills and phonological awareness
  • Sensory awareness related to communication, swallowing, or other upper aerodigestive functions
  • Speech (i.e., phonation, articulation, fluency, resonance and voice including aeromechanical components of respiration)
  • Swallowing or other upper aerodigestive functions
  • Voice (i.e., hoarseness, (Dysphonia), poor vocal volume, (Hypophonia), abnormal, (i.e., rough, breathy, strained vocal quality).  Additionally, recent research has indicated voice therapy, (LSVT), to be especially helpful with certain patient populations, such as individuals with Parkinson’s disease

Speech-Language Pathologists collaborate with other health care professionals often working as part of a multidisciplinary team, providing information and referrals to other health care professionals (i.e., doctors, nurses, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, educators and dietitians) and parents/caregivers as dictated by the individual client’s needs