Speech-language pathologists (or speech and language therapists, speech therapists, or simply, SLPs) prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, cognitive-communication, social communication, voice, and swallowing disorders. Working with individuals of all ages—rom babies to adults—SLPs conduct therapy sessions on a one-on-one basis and provide information for families, support groups, and the general public.
In many cases, SLPs work with other healthcare professionals to provide referrals and assessments. Speech-language pathologists treat a wide range of communication delays and disorders. These include:
- Speech Disorders – These can occur when an individual has difficulty producing speech sounds and putting them together to form intelligible words. Speech disorders include articulation or phonological disorders, apraxia of speech, and dysarthria.
- Language – Difficulties in understanding what was heard or read (receptive language) or using words to share thoughts and feelings (expressive language) may point to a language disorder. This can manifest in either spoken or written expression and may involve form (phonology, morphology, and syntax), content (semantics), and use (pragmatics) of language.
- Voice or Resonance – Voice or resonance disorders refer to problems in how one’s voice sounds. One may sound hoarse, lose voice easily, talk through the nose or too loudly, or be unable to make sounds.
- Social Communication – This refers to the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication. This includes how one communicates socially, how well one follows conversation rules and story-telling (aspect of expressive language called narratives), tells jokes, and how one speaks with different people in varied situations.
- Cognitive-Communication – Someone with a cognitive-communication disorder may exhibit problems with organization, memory, attention, problem-solving, and other thinking skills. This can be a result of traumatic brain injury, a stroke, dementia, and may also be congenital.
- Swallowing Disorders – Also known as dysphagia, swallowing disorders refer to difficulties in chewing, sucking, and swallowing food and liquid as a result of illness, surgery, stroke, or injury.
- Literacy – Individuals with speech and language disorders may also experience difficulties with pre-literacy and literacy skills (phonological awareness, decoding, spelling, reading comprehension, and writing).
Executive Functioning see below: