Terms and Terminology

What is Speech-Language Pathology/Therapy?


Pathology means “treating of disease,” from the root word “Pathos” meaning “suffering” and “Logia” meaning “study.” Hence, speech pathology is the study of any deviations from a healthy, normal, or efficient (speech) condition. Speech-language pathology is the treatment of individuals with congenital or acquired speech and/or language disorders. A speech disorder indicates an actual problem in the production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to difficulty understanding or putting  together of words to communicate ideas.


Who is a Speech-Language Pathologist?


Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are professionals who have studied the normal patterns of human communication, its development, and its disorders. They are licensed professionals with a least a master’s degree (either master’s of arts or master’s of science) and are certified in clinical competency from American Speech-Hearing-Association (ASHA). Areas of expertise and treatment include speech/articulation, fluency, oral-motor, voice, tongue thrust, reading/writing, receptive/expressive language, social skills, apraixa, cognitive, aphasia, cognitive, aphasia, dysarthria, and dysphagia.


What Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Treat?


Speech disorders.

Articulation: sound production.

Phonology: speech patterns.

Apraxia of speech: difficulty planning and coordinating the movements needed to make speech sounds.

Fluency: stuttering.

Voice: problems with the way the voice sounds.

Language disorders:

Receptive language: difficulty understanding spoken language.

Expressive language: difficulty using language/grammar.

Pragmatic language: social communication; the way we speak to each other.

Other disorders:

Deafness/hearing loss: loss of hearing (therapy includes developing lip-rounding, speech, and/or alternative communication systems).

Oral-Motor disorders: weak tongue and/or lip muscles.

Swallowing/feeding disorders: difficulty chewing and/or swallowing.


What are Speech and Language Disorders?

Diane Paul-Brown, Ph.D., Director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) considers the following as speech disorders and language disorders:


Articulation disorders: mispronunciation of sounds in syllables or incorrect production of words in which the individual’s intelligibility is hindered so others can’t understand what’s being said. ~ASHA


Fluency: problems such as stuttering, where the normal flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages, repetitions, or prolongation of sounds and syllables. ~ASHA


Resonance or voice disorders: problems with pitch, volume, or quality of an individual’s voice that distract listeners form what’s being said. ~ASHA


Phonological disorders: problems in producing some or all sounds necessary for speech that are age typical. Phonological disorders are some times referred to as articulation disorders, developmental articulation disorders, dyspraxia, or dysarthria. ~Phonological Disorders


Tongue-thrust disorder: along with “reverse swallow” or “immature swallow,” tongue-thrust is commonly used to describe orofacial muscular imbalance. ~SpeechPathology


Receptive-language disorders: includes central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), aphasia, Comprehension deficit, “delayed language,” and “delayed speech.” It also refers to difficulties in attending to tasks, processing/retraining/integrating spoken language. Some signs include: echolalia (repeating back words/phrases heard), inability to follow directions, inappropriate/off-topic responses to “WH” questions, and re-auditorization (repeating back a question before answering it). ~KIDSPEECH


Expressive-language disorders: difficulty putting words/phrases together to formulate thoughts. Some signs include: word retrieval difficulties, dysnomia (misnaming items), difficulty acquiring syntax (the rules of grammar), difficulties with morphology (changes in verb tense), difficulty with semantics (word meaning). ~KIDSPEECH


Auditory Processing disorder: difficulty with interpretation of information and sounds around. Missing parts/whole information presented. ~NIDCD


Apraxia/dyspraxia: trouble saying what one wants to say correctly and consistently. It is a motor programing disorder. Two main types of speech apraxia: acquired apraxia of speech affects a person at any age (usually effects adults and may result from a stroke, head injury, tumor, or other illnesses affecting the brain), whereas developmental apraxia of speech occurs in children and is present from birth. Developmental apraxia of speech is a developmental speech delay where the child follows the typical path of speech development but does so more slowly than normal. ~NIDCD


Oral-motor deficits: inability to use the oral mechanism for functional speech sound production or feeding, chewing, and blowing. ~ORALMOTOR


Dysarthria: weakness of the mouth, face, and respiratory musculature after a stroke or other brain injury. Speech that’s slurred, jerky, garbled and difficult to produce and/or understand. It can occur in pediatric as well as adults. ~ASHA, DYSARTHRIA


Aphasia:  language disorder that results form damage to the brain (usually the left hemisphere) usually following a stroke or head injury as well as a brain tumor. This disorder impairs both expressive and receptive language as well as reading and writing. ~NIDCD


Dysphagia: difficulty swallowing resulting from nervous system disorders, problems with esophagus (including gastroesophageal reflux disease; GERD), stroke, head or spinal cord injury, cancer of the head, neck and/or esophagus. ~MEDLINEPLUS, PEDIATRICS