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?
- 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.
- Receptive language: difficulty understanding spoken language.
- Expressive language: difficulty using language/grammar.
- Pragmatic language: social communication; the way we speak to each other.
- 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