What Do Speech Pathologists Actually Do?
Dear Children’s Speech Therapy Center,
Recently, a friend of mine recommended a local speech pathologist to address my child’s issues with reading comprehension. I didn’t know that speech pathologists worked on those skills. What do speech pathologists actually do?
— Concerned Parent
Dear Concerned Parent,
The bigger question is, “What don’t we do?” Some of the most common issues that we address are as follows:
Articulation & Phonological Disorders
Different speech sounds develop by certain ages. If a child is unable to produce a certain speech sound by a certain age, they may have an articulation disorder. When a child has difficulty organizing patterns of speech sounds appropriately, leading to decreased intelligibility, they may have a phonological disorder. Speech pathologists work to remediate any speech sound disorders.
Expressive & Receptive Language
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, between 6 and 8 million people in the United States have some form of language impairment. This number includes adults and adolescents with acquired injuries from stoke or head injuries. A speech pathologist may work with your child (or an adult) on difficulties with following directions, understanding concepts, expanding vocabulary, appropriate grammar usage, comprehension, and language sequencing.
Auditory processing refers to how the central nervous system uses auditory information. This may manifest itself by someone having difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions, or continuously asking for repetition. An audiologist must do the assessment and make an auditory processing diagnosis. However, a speech pathologist may be on the diagnosing team and is also able to treat an auditory processing disorder once the diagnosis is given.
Feeding & Swallowing Disorders
Swallowing and feeding disorders can occur with a variety of medical diagnoses, impacting infants up to adults. Due to their extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiologist of the upper digestive tract, a speech pathologist is able to assess what the problem is and is able to create a treatment plan to address individual needs.
Also known as fluency, a speech therapist will work with your child on decreasing the number of disruptions that stop forward airflow during speech. There are many fluency-enhancing strategies that may be utilized depending on the response to treatment.
Speech pathologists have the specialized knowledge to help children build literacy skills. Difficulty in reading and writing can involve many of the same components of receptive and expressive language such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. A speech pathologist’s knowledge of language acquisition prepares them to assume a variety of roles related to the development of reading and writing.
A developmental delay may be present during the first few years of life, and your child may be slow to use words. Typically, if your child is not speaking by age two, your pediatrician will refer you to see a speech pathologist.
Foreign Accent Modification
Accents are not a speech-language disorder. However, speech pathologists can provide assistance to those that would like to modify or reduce their accent.
Speech pathologists play an important role is helping to develop communication abilities in children with hearing loss, as well as remediating speech sound disorders that arise due to difficulty with hearing those specific sounds.
Also known as social skills, speech pathologists work with children and adults that have pragmatic language deficits. Pragmatic language deficits demonstrated through difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations, understanding and displaying appropriate non-verbal cues, understanding another’s perspective and understanding a set of expected behaviors in a given situation.
Children’s Speech Therapy Center (CSTC) is a well-known private practice specializing in pediatric speech therapy and conveniently located in Ashburn, VA. When your child needs a speech and language professional, navigating all your options can be time-consuming and frustrating!
Let Children’s Speech Therapy Center help! Their team provides diagnostic and therapeutic services including screenings, evaluations, and therapy for all ages, from infancy to adolescence. From more routine challenges to complex conditions, their team of licensed and accredited speech language pathologists are prepared to help with your child's unique speech and language needs.
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