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Also called a speech therapist, a speech language pathologist treats disorders involving speech, language and swallowing. Speech language pathologists can find jobs working in public and private schools, hospitals and speech therapy offices. Some nursing homes hire speech therapists, who sometimes travel to their patients' homes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 44 percent of speech therapists work in schools.
Diagnosis of Speech Disorders
A speech language pathologist's job involves assessing patients for the presence of speech disorders and providing an accurate diagnosis. They can include fluency disorders, marked by the interruption of the normal flow of speech, and articulation disorders, which occur when a person says a sound or group of sounds incorrectly. For example, a person with a speech articulation disorder might pronounce the R sound as W. A speech language pathologist also evaluates people for voice disorders, marked by problems with pitch, quality and duration.
Diagnosis of Language Disorders
A speech language pathologist diagnoses patients for the presence of language disorders. Language disorders can involve the use of language in written and spoken form as well as sign language. Disorders that fall under this heading can involve difficulty understanding meanings, combining words and sounds, understanding how to create sentences, and understanding how various components of language combine. Assessment can involve figuring out whether a patient's language skills are impaired or if he has lost skills he previously possessed.
A speech pathologist's narrow, well-defined objectives work toward achieving broad therapeutic goals. This professional develops an individualized treatment plan for each patient, which often includes time-based objectives. For example, his objectives may include helping a patient correctly say several new sounds by the end of a quarter, marking period or year. Other objectives can include helping a patient to understand and to explain a speaker's gestures, demonstrate newly learned conversation strategies, explain the perception of body language, speak for a period of time without stuttering and improve reading comprehension to a specific level.
A speech language pathologist sets broad but specific goals for each of his patients. Specific goals can include helping patients develop clearer speech, learn to use alternate methods of communication, develop better reading and writing skills, and strengthen throat and neck muscles. Goals also may include coordinating treatment programs with other professionals or referring patients for other treatments. For example, a patient with a swallowing disorder may benefit from the collaborative care of a speech language pathologist and a medical doctor.
- American Speech-Language_Hearing Association: Speech-Language Disorders and the Speech-Language Pathologist
- California Speech Language Hearing Association: Speech-Language Pathology Goals and Objectives
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Speech-Language Pathologists Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment
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