Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-Language Pathologists are an important asset to the health care field. In practice, they often collaborate with other health practitioners such as physicians, dentists,audiologists, and dietitians. They specialize in diagnosing and treating people of all ages who have difficulties with speech, language, and swallowing. Patients include young children with developmental disorders like autism, adolescents with articulation concerns like stuttering, and adults recovering from traumatic brain injuries or coping with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. One can find them in hospitals,private clinics, schools, and community health centers.

Speech and language may seem to fall under the same category, but in this field, they have very distinct meanings. Speech refers to the physical production of verbal communication. Professionals can identify abnormalities in articulation, intonation, and oral-motor movement. Language refers to the combination of sounds, syllables, and syntax to create words and sentences. Language disorders affect cognitive aspects of communication such as comprehension (receptive language) and expression (expressive language). Abnormalities in word production and meaning alert cause for concerns.

Many colleges have majors at the baccalaureate level that study speech language pathology, the department is usually listed under “speech and hearing sciences.” Undergraduate study in speech-language pathology focuses on developing knowledge of anatomy/physiology, psychology, and linguistics. Before beginning graduate school, the GRE is required for admission to most programs. After matriculating, the curriculum includes classes for evaluation and diagnosis, as well as a practicum. A practicum is a type of class that allows the students to apply clinical methods with actual clients under the supervision of a licensed practitioner.

Entry-level practice begins at the master’s level, after licensure. To obtain licensure, the recent graduate must pass the PRAXIS-SLP, the national exam for speech-language pathology. Many go on to become certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The Certification for Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) is an indicator that the clinician has successfully completed the academic and clinical requirements for professional practice.

Source: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association