Speech Pathology / Therapy
Speech pathology involves the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders that relate to speech, language, swallowing, fluency, voice, and communication. A speech pathologist helps people who struggle with speech disorders because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disabilities, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and other problems that can affect speech. People who experience problems with stuttering, speaking clearly, swallowing, and other tasks that make speech challenging can receive the services of a speech pathologist in order to overcome such obstacles. By using standardized tests and assessment tools, the speech pathologist has the ability to diagnose specific problems of each patient. After diagnosing the problem, the speech pathologist devises a treatment plan that suits the needs of each specific patient that needs assistance.
Speech pathology is a career field that can be practiced in a variety of settings. Some professionals in speech pathology may work in schools, while others work in an office or medical setting. Speech pathologists may even visit their patients' homes in order to offer their services. If a person desires to work in the speech pathology field, he or she must first earn a master's degree in Speech Pathology. If the student earns a degree from a university or college accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, he or she will find it easier to obtain a license as a speech pathologist.
Typical courses offered in a speech pathology graduate program include classes in anatomy and physiology and courses that relate to the mechanics of speech and swallowing. Students will learn about speech disorders and how communication relates to psychology. Since many states require speech pathologists to be licensed, new graduates will have to pass an examination that focuses on speech pathology. They will also need to complete several hours of supervised and professional clinical experience.
Speech pathologists can specialize in different areas, working with either adults, school-aged children, preschoolers, people with learning disabilities, or patients with speech disorders. As a speech pathologist gains more experience, he or she can serve as a mentor to new professionals or advance to an administrative position. In order to be effective in their jobs, all speech pathologists must be able to work well with patients, effectively diagnose speech problems, and treat the various disorders encountered in their patients. Above all, those who seek a career in speech pathology must exhibit patience, good listening skills, and empathy in order to work with patients on a daily basis.
Speech therapy is a form of therapy which is designed to address language and speech disorders. It is typically provided by a speech therapist, who may work with a psychologist, physiotherapist, or psychiatrist, depending on the patient's condition. Speech therapists can address speech and language issues as they occur, and they may also provide preventative care which is designed to stop such disorders before they start.
Language disorders involve an inability to utilize language. People with language disorders may have psychological issues like stuttering, or they may have cognitive impairments which make it difficult for them to connect critical features of spoken language. Speech therapy for language disorders starts with determining the extent of the disorder, exploring the underlying cause, and then addressing the cause with the patient, using a variety of exercises to help the patient overcome the disorder.
People recovering from strokes and brain injuries may also experience language disorders as a result of cognitive impairments. For these patients, speech therapy can help the patient recover his or her former language faculties, or develop a new method of communication if it is impossible for the patient to fully recover. Speech therapists can also address emotional discomfort caused by slurred speech or difficulty speaking after a stroke, helping patients feel more confident.
Speech disorders involve physical obstacles to speech which create speech impediments or difficulty speaking, such as disorders of the vocal cords. Speech therapy for these types of conditions involves an assessment of the patient, which may be assisted by a doctor who can help the speech therapist determine what is causing the problem, followed by the development of a treatment plan to help the patient learn to speak. Speech therapists can also help patients learn to use various tools which can assist with communication.
Speech therapy can also be used to help people overcome thick accents, or in the treatment of transgendered individuals who want to retrain their voices as part of their transition process. Being able to suppress accents can be important for people who are interested in advancing professionally.
Children can sometimes develop speech impediments which will grow worse over time. Early speech therapy can address such impediments before they become severe, preventing the development of problems in the future. Because speech issues can also be the sign of an underlying medical problem, it is important for parents to take their children to a speech therapist if they develop issues with speech or language.