Your Ultimate Guide to Speech-Language Pathology

January 24, 2022


Do you know someone who has problems with their speech? Is speech-language pathology a good solution? Well, nearly 7% of Americans have some form of language impairment. Speech-language pathology comes in handy when it is needed.

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In this post, we will look at what speech-language pathology is and what it treats. We will also learn how speech-language pathology is done. 

What Is Speech-Language Pathology? 

Well, before we discuss speech-language pathology, it's important to understand the terms involved separately. Speech language relates to the human language faculty. It encompasses the study, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological disorders that affect communication using verbal or nonverbal means such as words, gestures, sounds, or other modes of expression.

On the other hand, pathology indicates an abnormal state, disorder, or disease. 

When people talk about speech therapy, they mean the process of treating patients with any type of speech problem through the use of therapeutic methods and procedures based on the best scientific evidence available. 

So, to answer the initial question, speech-language pathology is the practice of treating people for speech disorders through the use of scientifically proven methods and procedures used by professionals trained to do so.

Okay, let's get into detail. What are the common types of speech disorders? Let us explore them.

Common Types of Speech Disorders 

Here are some common types of speech disorders which can be treated by speech-language pathologists:

  • Problems with Articulation
  • Slurring and Incoherent Speech
  • Stuttering
  • Severe lisping
  • Dysarthria
  • Hypernasality
  • Guttural voice
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Other conditions like tongue-tie, tracheoesophageal fistula, cleft palate, etc

How Is Speech-language Pathology Treated?

The way speech-language pathologists treat speech problems depends on the following factors: 

  • Nature of the condition
  • The severity of symptoms
  • Age of the patient 
  • The cognitive ability of the patient
  • Level of social support
  • The financial situation of the family 
  • Nature of the environment in which the person works or lives, and 
  • Need for an individualized intervention plan.

People with severe cases can have a lot more work done than others who can speak normally.

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how speech-language pathology is done:

Step 1: Diagnosis 

A speech-language pathologist usually starts diagnosing the problem after a thorough examination of the patient. During the exam, the speech pathologist collects all information from various sources, including, but not limited to medical history, observations made during the interview with the patient, observation of the vocal tract by moving their lips while talking, video recording of the speaking pattern, evaluation of auditory function, assessment of cognitive skills, and other tests if required.

Step 2: Assessment 

After a successful diagnosis of the problem, next comes the assessment. This involves collecting information about the patient's strengths and weaknesses. Generally, this will involve obtaining a detailed description of the patient's goals. However, due to issues related to memory and retaining information, some patients find it a bit difficult to provide this information.

There should be an understanding of the condition's impact on daily activities, school performance, relationships, etc. 

Step 3: Treatment Plan Development 

Treatment plans vary depending on the prevailing disorder, the severity of the problem, the patient's response to treatment, and the success rate. 

Step 4: Therapy Methods 

Based on the type of therapy required, the speech pathologist will use various methods to help patients improve their speech patterns.

Step 5: Post Evaluation Monitoring & Follow Up 

The post-treatment monitoring includes regular check-ups of the progress made by the patient. These include checking the improvement of their speech pattern, assessing the general well-being of the client, and so on.

What Does a Speech Pathologist Do?

As mentioned earlier, speech therapists come up with different approaches depending on the kind of problem. They evaluate the patient's ability to articulate both verbally and non-verbally and develop therapy plans accordingly. Once they develop a plan, they train the patient and then give feedback regarding their progress.

Some of the standard services speech pathologists offer include:

  • Dysarthria rehabilitation includes stuttering.
  • Vocal range training, including laryngeal impairment.
  • Rehabilitation of phonological processing issues.
  • Cognitive-behavioral interventions to improve self-esteem and motivation for learning.
  • Speech sound production assistance.
  • Communication intervention to teach social and conversational skills.
  • Group participation for those with disabilities where there may be a need for peer support.
  • Psychosocial counseling and family education on the impact of developmental delays.

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