What Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Do?
What Speech-Language Pathologists Can Help With
Speech Delays and Disorders
- Apraxia (of speech): motor speech disorder caused by brain damage that makes it difficult to form correct words and sounds. SLPs can help those with apraxia of speech train their speech muscles to move correctly or learn alternative methods of communication such as gesturing or using a computer.
- Dysarthria: muscle weakness caused by brain damage that makes it difficult to speak. SLPs can help patients with dysarthria slow their speech, speak louder, strengthen mouth muscles, make clearer sounds, and use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
- Stuttering: type of fluency disorder in which patients get stuck on words or sounds, stretch out a part of a word for a long time, or struggle to get a word out when speaking. SLPs can help involve parents and teachers in treatment plans for children who stutter. For older children and adults, SLPs can help them manage their stuttering by finding strategies to relieve tension when speaking and facing situations that make them anxious when speaking.
- Voice disorders: disorders that affect the voice including chronic cough, paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM), spasmodic dysphonia, vocal cord nodules, and vocal fold paralysis. Treatments vary based on the cause and severity of a patient’s vocal disorders, but SLPs can help treat voice disorders using methods that include helping patients manage chronic coughs, treating conditions that cause PVFM and training a patient to keep their vocal cords open, conducting voice therapy, teaching patients about vocal hygiene, and referring patients to other providers for medical treatment of underlying conditions.
Language Delays and Disorders
- Cognitive-communicative disorders: conditions that cause cognitive impairment and typically occur after strokes or as a result of a brain injury or degenerative disease. SLPs may help these patients restore their previous level of cognitive function, find strategies to compensate for memory loss and loss of cognitive function, and work with family members to improve communication outcomes.
- Dysphasia: swallowing disorders that make it difficult for patients to move food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. SLPs can refer patients to providers for medical and pharmaceutical treatment, conduct feeding therapy, help patients try new foods or ways of eating, strengthen mouth and tongue muscles, and help with sensory issues.
- Pre-literacy and literacy skills: includes the building blocks of literacy that may help predict reading outcomes, such as oral language, vocabulary, alphabetic knowledge, and knowledge of print. SLPs can work with parents to help them encourage pre-literacy skills and literacy skills in children.
- Social communication: trouble using language, changing language in different situations, or following the unwritten rules of conversation. SLPs can work with these patients to help them adjust their communication based on the situation.