What is a Speech Pathologist?

What is a Speech Pathologist?

A Speech & Language Pathologist is a trained and qualified professional who works with people in all aspects of communication, usually with people who have a communication impairment. Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speech, language, voice, fluency and swallowing. They work with people who have difficulty communicating because of problems such as developmental delays, learning disability, hearing loss, stroke, brain injuries, intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. A Speech pathologist can also help people who have difficulties swallowing food and drink safely. Using specific assessments, speech pathologists can diagnose each person’s particular problem and develop a treatment plan that best suits their needs and goals.

Speech pathologists are specialists who work with people across their entire lifespan. An adult might visit a speech pathologist to help them with a voice difficulty (such as regularly losing their voice at work), while a child might need therapy to help their expressive language (putting words together and being understood) or receptive language (understanding instructions and meanings).

Speech pathologists also work with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), devices that help people who find it difficult to speak or write to communicate more easily. This can include ‘unaided systems’ like Makaton key word signing and gestures or ‘aided systems’ like picture charts, books and special devices or computers.

Speech pathology is practised in a wide variety of settings such as schools, hospitals, aged care homes, kindergartens, rehabilitation centres, community health centres and private practice. Speech pathologists work with many different people with lots of different communication challenges. They could include:

• giving advice to parents on how to stimulate their child’s language development who may not be talking yet

• working with children who are difficult to understand at a Kindergarten

• helping a primary school student with reading and learning difficulties

• working with a high school student who has a stutter to speak more fluently and with confidence

• training a teacher who constantly loses their voice to use it more effectively

• working with a young man with severe brain injury due to a motorcycle accident to speak clearly again

• working with a person post-stroke to regain his communication skills

• providing education about different ways to communicate for teachers, doctors, the police and parents

• providing communication strategies and assistive devices for a person with cerebral palsy who cannot communicate verbally

• teaching a person to swallow safely and without choking following a stroke or severe illness.

To become a Speech pathologist you are required to complete an Undergraduate Speech Pathology course or a Masters in Speech Pathology, which is offered at many Australian Universities.

Speech pathologists are the specialists trained to assess, advise, treat and advocate for people with communication impairment, and  their families.

To make an appointment with a speech pathologist at ‘Speech Bubble’ speech therapy, call 0416 071 166 or email speechbubble@hotmail.com.au