What do speech and language pathologists do?

Wondering what speech and language pathologists do? 

  • Speech and language pathologists, also called SLPs, are experts in communication who help individuals of all ages with disorders in communication and swallowing.
  • SLPs work in a range of settings including schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, early childhood centers and nonprofit organizations.
  • SLPs work with individuals from birth to the elderly.

Conditions that SLPs treat include:

  • Speech sounds — how one makes sounds and put sounds together in words. Disorders of phonology, apraxia or dysarthria.
  • Language — how one understands what we hear or read, as well as how we tell others what we are thinking. Loss of language may be called aphasia. SLPs often work with children and adults who have problems with reading, spelling and writing.
  • Social communication — often referred to as pragmatics. Individuals can have difficulties with taking turns, following rules or how close to stand to someone when talking.
  • Voice — individuals who have voice disorders may sound hoarse, lose their voice, talk to loudly or be unable to make an appropriate-sounding voice.
  • Fluency — refers to how well speech flows. People who stutter and clutter are often described as having a fluency disorder.
  • Cognitive communication — problems related to memory, attention, problem solving, organization and other thinking skills.
  • Feeding and swallowing — referred to as dysphagia. These are conditions related to how an individual sucks, chews and swallow foods and liquids. Swallowing disorders are life threatening and lead to poor nutrition, weight loss and other health problems.
  • Augmentative and alternative communication — also known as AAC. These are systems for individuals with severe expressive and/or language comprehension disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder or progressive neurological disorders.

Altered from asha.org.

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