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A speech language pathologist is someone who is qualified to evaluate, diagnose and treat a broad range of communication and swallowing disorders in patients. Most speech language pathologists work in schools or healthcare facilities, and some work with patients in their homes.
Speech and language pathologists typically do the following:
Speech language pathologists work with patients who have problems with speech, such as being unable to speak at all or speaking with difficulty, or with rhythm and fluency, such as stuttering. They may work with those who are unable to understand language or with people who have voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or a harsh voice.
Speech language pathologists must also do various administrative tasks, including keeping good records. They record their initial patient evaluations and diagnoses, treatment progress, any changes in a patient’s condition or treatment plan, and, eventually, their final evaluation when the patient finishes the therapy.
Some speech language pathologists specialize in working with specific age groups, such as children or the elderly. Others focus on treatment programs for specific communication or swallowing problems, such as those resulting from strokes or cleft palate.
In medical facilities, speech language pathologists work with physicians, social workers, psychologists, and other therapists. In schools, they work with teachers, special educators, other school personnel, and parents to develop and carry out individual or group programs, provide counseling, and support classroom activities.
Almost half of all speech language pathologists work in schools. Most others work in healthcare facilities or in patients’ homes. Most speech-language pathologists work full time, and those who work on a contract basis may spend considerable time travelling between facilities to treat patients.
The standard level of education for speech language pathologists is a master’s degree. Although master’s programs do not specify a particular undergraduate degree for admission, certain courses must be taken before entering the program. Required courses vary by institution. Graduate programs often include courses in age-specific speech disorders, alternative communication methods, and swallowing disorders. These programs also include supervised clinical practice in addition to coursework.
Speech language pathologists must be licensed in almost all jurisdictions. A license requires at least a master’s degree and supervised clinical experience. Some regions require graduation from an accredited program to get a license.
The overall salary for a speech pathologist is determined by a wide range of factors such as working industry, years of medical experience, type of employer and the city one works in.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has identified several “must have” characteristics for SLPs.
At its simplest, speech-language pathology is the treatment of communication disorders, so a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is a therapist who works with clients to help them communicate more clearly, more easily, and more effectively.
Over the last few years, the number of audiologists and speech-language pathologists has grown sharply. This can be explained by the many newcomers to the profession and by rising needs among children and seniors. Considering that universities have increased the number of spots for students and the impact of immigration, the number of people in this occupation should continue to grow sharply over the next few years.
Working with the full range of human communication, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) evaluate and diagnose speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders and treat such disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
Speech pathologists, officially called speech-language pathologists and sometimes called speech therapists, work with people who have a variety of speech-related disorders. These disorders can include the inability to produce certain sounds, speech rhythm and fluency problems, and voice disorders.