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What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?

A speech language pathologist specializes in treating speech disorders.
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  • Written By: Emma Lloyd
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 July 2014
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A speech language pathologist is someone who diagnoses and treats language and speech disorders. These professionals often work in hospitals and schools, but may also work in private practice as a consultant. In schools, their main focus is usually on providing help and support to children who require extra speech help outside of normal classes, while in hospitals, they help people who have medical conditions that cause communication impairment. One working as a private consultant may work with adults and children who have speech impairment for a wide variety of reasons, including psychological as well as physical factors.

In most cases, a speech language pathologist works one-on-one with his or her clients, rather than in groups of two or more people. The first visit or two with a new patient is usually spent assessing the type of language or speech disorder he or she is affected by. Next, the speech therapist will spend some time devising a treatment plan that will most effectively help the client improve his or her speech or language skills. Treatment might entail not only working on conventional speech and language skills, but also development of alternate communication methods, as some clients may have impaired speech or language to the point where they cannot communicate verbally.

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The type and range of speech and language disorders that these professionals may encounter are highly variable. For example, they may diagnose and treat cognitive communication disorders such as voice disorders, aphasia, or delayed language, which may occur after a stroke or other brain injury, a neurological disorder such as Parkinson's or Huntington's Disease, or may be the result of a congenital abnormality. Speech language therapists working in schools often help children with learning difficulties, hearing impairment, or speech disorders such as stammering.

All states in the US require that a speech language pathologist hold a master’s or other graduate degree, but requirements may vary in other countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, candidates must complete a three to four year degree course, but don’t have to have a master’s degree. In both countries, and in several others, the speech therapist must also be licensed or registered with a national or state organization.

A successful career in speech therapy requires both practical and personal skills, including excellent verbal and written communication skills, and a well-developed ability to work with people one-on-one. Patience, tact, and compassion are important personal skills for these types of healthcare jobs. As with many other healthcare careers, it’s also important for the individual to be able to work with and teach people from different cultures and different social or economic backgrounds.

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Discuss this Article

surfNturf
Post 3

Icecream17-I think that a great speech language pathologist resume should really have some hospital experience or experience in the school system.

I knew a speech language pathologist who worked at Miami Children’s Hospital for a number of years and after she got significant experience she opened up a new practice from her home.

Because the business was run from her home she was able to charge significantly less than what a standard speech pathologist would charge.

This allowed her to easily grow her business with faithful clients because aside from being good at her job, her fees were hard to beat. She only charged about $35 per half hour. Most speech language pathologists in private practice charge double that fee.

icecream17
Post 2

Sunshine31-I think speech language pathologist careers are hot right now. Many schools are offering premium pay for these speech language pathologist jobs because they have a shortage of qualified language speech pathologists.

In the state of Florida, for example, a speech and language pathologist is given loan forgiveness up to $10,000 per year and higher starting pay in order to sign on with the school district.

I had a friend that had to wait six months for an evaluation for her child. While the public schools offer this service for free, the clear shortage of qualified pediatric speech language pathologists causes many of these children to fall further and further behind in their condition.

sunshine31
Post 1

Speech language pathologist requirements include a master’s degree in speech and language pathology along with a license in speech and language pathology.

Any accredited speech language pathologist school should prepare you for this requirement.

A pediatric speech language pathologist works with children of all ages in order to correct speech problems.

Children that have inaudible speech because they are not pronouncing words correctly usually need articulation therapy.

Articulation therapy is one of the most common speech therapies available to children. With the proper tongue placement and repetitive pronunciation of difficult sounds, children learn to overcome these problems.

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