Speech-Language Pathologists Fill a Variety of Vital Roles

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Speech-Language Pathologists Fill a Variety of Vital Roles

Speech-language pathologists make a huge difference in the lives of their patients. Their area of speciality is diagnosing, assessing and managing disorders relating to swallowing, feeding and communication.

You’ll often find speech-language pathologists in public health centres, hospitals, clinics and other professional settings, helping patients of all ages.

Most of the time, they help patients deal with a speech disorder and teach them how to speak clearly and properly, but speech-language pathologists perform a variety of other roles, including:  

Evaluate Patients’ Speech and Language Proficiencies

The first thing that a speech pathologist does is evaluate a patient to determine their proficiency in both language and speech.

The pathologist looks for problematic areas of the patient’s communication skills while watching the patient perform basic tasks like reading and speaking in order to study their proficiencies. This allows the speech pathologist to determine how much help the patient truly needs.

Identify Treatment Options and Create a Treatment Plan

There is no fixed treatment plan for all patients. After a patient has been evaluated, the speech pathologist makes a list of all the appropriate treatment options for him or her. The pathologist explains these treatment options to the patient and his or her family.

After one or more options are selected, the pathologist will create a treatment plan for the patient to follow. It could be a short-term or long-term plan, depending on the extent of the speech problem.

Teach Patients to Make Sounds

Patients with a speech problem might have trouble making certain sounds. A speech pathologist teaches these patients how to make these sounds properly, helping them overcome problems like stuttering.

Speech exercises also help patients improve their vocals when they speak so that their words come out clearly. As time goes on, their voices will improve, and it will be easier for their speech to flow smoothly without any stutters or breaks.

Sometimes patients who have been socially isolated or who haven’t had many opportunities to speak will just need a lot of practice to develop their voices. A speech pathologist is a perfect person to help make that happen for them.

Teach Alternative Communication Methods

Some patients may be physically incapable of speaking clearly or speaking at all. A deaf person, for instance, will not be able to speak clearly to a non-deaf person, and so he or she might need to learn an alternative communication method.

Speech pathologists typically teach sign language as an alternative communication method to people suffering from deafness, a neurological disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or anyone else who has an inability to speak clearly.

Help Improve Patients’ Literacy

Speech therapists focus on more than just the voices and sign language of a patient. They also work to improve the literacy of their patients, as well.

Often, people suffering from autism or neurological disorders will have trouble reading. Speech pathologists work with patients to help improve their reading and overall literacy.

Help Patients Strengthen Swallowing Muscles

Speech therapists can help patients who have swallowing disorders. The range of patients could be anyone from babies to adults. Babies, of course, typically need the most help because parents don’t know what to do.

Usually, this disorder relates to the patient’s swallowing muscles not being strong enough. The speech pathologist will work to help strengthen those muscles so that the patient can swallow better again.

Counsel Patients and Families

Speech pathologists are also called speech therapists because they serve as a speech counsellor for patients and families.

Those suffering from speech or swallowing disorders might have a lot of trouble in society. Families of sufferers often are eager to help their loved ones, too.

A speech pathologist can offer advice and guidance on the best ways to manage speech disorders in daily life. A treatment plan, including regular speech therapy sessions with the pathologist, will be recommended to them.

Image via Pixabay CC0 License
David Anthony

David has a background in Journalism and small business. David writes on culture, education and business. He also writes for Relevance and Medium.

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