Speech Language Pathologist
profession of speech language pathology encompasses a wide range
of competencies, pertinent to communication and its related disorders.
Speech language pathologists (SLP), also called speech therapists,
are trained to work with individuals of all ages who experience
difficulties in communicating.
Some difficulties result
from an identifiable source, such as an articulation disorder caused
by a stroke, a hearing loss or cerebral palsy. Many others exist
without a clear cause.
Speech language pathologists treat a variety of
communication disorders that occur in the areas of articulation,
language comprehension, language expression, cognition, oral-motor
functioning and swallowing. They work with individuals in one-on-one
and/or group situations and conduct speech and language evaluation
and therapy services.
The primary goal of a speech language pathologist
is to support an individual to be able to communicate effectively
with others for meeting his/her needs and social relationships in
every aspect of life. SLPs use written and oral tests to diagnose
the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech,
language and swallowing irregularities.
Then they develop an individualized plan of care,
tailored to each patient's needs. For individuals with little or
no speech capability, speech language pathologists select augmentative
alternative communication methods, including AT devices and sign
language. Then the individual is trained on its use.
Speech language pathologists teach individuals
how to make sounds, improve his/her voice or increase language skills
to communicate more effectively. Speech language pathologists also
help patients develop or recover reliable communication skills so
they may fulfill educational, vocational and social roles.
As the area of assistive technology has grown,
it has become more and more common to find speech language pathologists
who specialize in providing assistive technology services to individuals
with disabilities. Speech language pathologists frequently receive
training in the area of assistive technology and often serve on
teams providing comprehensive AT services. These services may include
evaluation, recommendation, acquisition and training of low- and
Speech language pathologists cover various areas,
such as augmentative and alternative communication, environmental
control, aids to daily living, computer access, positioning and
mobility aids, assistive listening devices and low vision aids.
Speech language pathologists may provide direct and/or consultative
assessment and treating services utilizing one or more types of
They often will consult and coordinate services
with other professionals, including audiologists, physical, occupational
and recreational therapists, special educators, rehabilitation counselors,
psychologists and rehabilitation engineers. A common purpose in
the provision of technology services is to support and supplement
an individual's existing communication, education, and life skills.
This provides an alternate means by which a person can function
successfully within his or her environment.
A speech language pathologist can work in a variety
of settings from schools and hospitals to private clinics, rehabilitation
centers, skilled nursing facilities and individuals' homes. Speech
language pathologists must earn a master's degree in speech language
pathology and become certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association (ASHA), 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, Answer
Line: 888-321-ASHA; Action Center: (800) 498-2071; (301) 897-5700;
(301) 897-0157 (TTY); (301) 571-0457 (Fax); http://www.asha.org/default.htm.
Many states also require an AT Professional
to become licensed by the state department of professional regulations.
Some of the colleges with a master's program in speech-language
pathology are the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin,
Northwestern University, Purdue University, Indiana University,
Western Michigan University, and Michigan State University.