Also known as Speech-Language Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology looks at speech, language, cognition, voice, swallowing, and social communication skills. A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) works with people of all ages; from infants to adults. Treatment by an SLP helps the patient learn or improve skills that will help them become more independent in daily life. A Speech-Language Pathologist can also help maintain skills to prevent or slow down functional decline.
Who Does Speech-Language Pathology Benefit?
This therapy benefits people with a wide range of challenges that stem from developmental disabilities, injuries or illnesses. Speech-language therapy is not only for people who have speech and language issues; voice, social communication skills and cognition are also directly addressed.
According to ASHA, SLPs provide services that cover:
- Speech Sound Production
- Language (comprehension and expression)
- Cognition (thinking skills, including memory, problem solving, executive function)
- Feeding and swallowing
My doctor thinks I need speech therapy…now what?
When you or a loved one are referred to a speech-language therapist, the first step is to think about what you are hoping to change or improve. Once that is known, you will then be evaluated for services. During the evaluation, the SLP will find the areas of need and develop a treatment plan to improve or restore your skills. Each evaluation will result in a carefully designed plan of care, including short- and long-term goals.
The number of sessions will look different for each person, and it will be based on the outcome needed or a long-term goal. For example, teenagers who are having a hard time with homework will focus on strategies to improve school success. An adult who has suffered a stroke will work on communicating or modified skills to help with managing daily life. Whereas, an adult with Asperger’s (ASD) will benefit from learning “social communication rules” to help them succeed at work.
Treatment with an SLP includes finding and using a variety of tools and strategies. These strategies vary based on the person’s skill level, and prior and current level of function. To improve memory some people use notebooks, planners, phone systems and/or alarms. However, some people need to improve their attention, and they can benefit from written checklists. While still others will need to adjust their surroundings to lower distractions to help them stay on task.
Setting up routines is another method used in treatment; through checklists, structure and repetition. Learning with structure improves participation and independence with daily tasks. For language skills, sessions may include developing language strategies, role playing and rehearsal. Using computer programs or a communication device may also be helpful in aiding or replacing language skills. With social communication skills, individuals with Asperger’s (ASD) learn and implement social communication “rules” and set up boundaries as needed.