Speech therapists and speech-language pathologists are one and the same. They are professionals who specialize in the rhythm of our speech, including repeating sounds or pausing while we talk. This is known as stuttering. A speech therapist, also referred to as a speech-language pathologist, evaluates, diagnoses, and treats speech disorders and communication problems.
They work with both children with developmental delays and adults with speech problems caused by injury or illness. Your healthcare provider may refer you to a speech-language pathologist for a variety of reasons. Common warning signs include speaking infrequently, difficulty using language socially, and trouble understanding simple sentences. But did you know how important those “simple sounds” are? From infancy, children explore the mouth and begin to make sounds, which eventually become recognizable speech sounds, and then the sounds of speech become language.
Speech therapy helps develop early language skills, voice and sound production, comprehension, fluency, clarity and expression. There are many different approaches and categories of speech therapy, and your healthcare provider will find the one that works best for you. For children, speech therapy is most successful when started early and practiced at home with a parent or caregiver. If you or your child are having trouble communicating, ask your healthcare provider if you can schedule an evaluation with a speech therapist.
The American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific and accrediting association with 223,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language and hearing scientists; support staff in audiology and speech-language pathology; and students. If you have a medical condition that has caused a speech disorder, your healthcare provider will tell you when it's time to see a speech therapist. What happens during speech therapy depends on several factors, including your age and the type of speech disorder you have. If a medical condition has caused your speech disorder, your speech and language skills may improve as you recover from the underlying problem.
Speech therapy is an important part of communication development for both children and adults. It can help improve communication skills by teaching new ways to express thoughts and feelings. It can also help people learn how to use their voices more effectively or how to use alternative forms of communication such as sign language or augmentative communication devices. Speech therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions such as stuttering, articulation disorders, voice disorders, fluency disorders, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), hearing loss, cognitive-communication disorders (including dementia), swallowing disorders (dysphagia), social communication disorders (including social anxiety), traumatic brain injury (TBI), cleft palate/lip repair surgery recovery, hearing loss/deafness recovery, stroke recovery, Parkinson's disease recovery, cerebral palsy recovery, Down syndrome recovery.