By: Christina Rossi M.S. CF-SLP
People are often surprised when they discover the vast scope of our practice. “Oh, you’re a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist? So you help people say the /r/ sound?” I would be retired in the Cayman Islands if I had a nickel for every time I heard that. Yes, Speech-Language Pathologists help clients with articulation, but our scope of practice reaches far beyond the R sound! This misconception arises when people refer to us as Speech Therapists and omit the essential ‘language’ part! Below are a few main areas SLPs treat.
- Expressive/Receptive/Social Language. We help children comprehend the world around them, improve their ability to communicate with others, and guide them to use appropriate language during social interactions to improve social skills.
- Swallowing. The same muscles used for speech are also used for swallowing. Sometimes, people’s tongue position or throat muscle coordination makes swallowing difficult. SLPs help these people learn how to chew and swallow safely. This helps ensure that people get the nutrition they need.
- Voice disorders. Have you ever met someone with a scratchy or breathy voice? It’s possible that his or her vocal quality is the result of excessive shouting, lack of drinking water, or other problems with the vocal cords. SLPs show people how to take care of their voices through breathing exercises, vocal hygiene, and other vocal techniques.
- Hearing impairments. If you have trouble hearing others and yourself, then it is very difficult to monitor your own speech. SLPs help people who are deaf or hearing impaired to communicate through a combination of sign language and speech sound instruction. This includes working with children diagnosed with auditory-processing disorder who have difficulties processing auditory information.
- Stuttering. Approximately 70 million people around the world stutter, or get stuck on sounds and words as they speak. This can be very frustrating, and research shows that stuttering can have social and psychological repercussions. SLPs teach people who stutter a variety of strategies to make their speech more fluent and help them to deal with the social and psychological issues that can come with stuttering.
- Executive functioning. Executive functions are skills that help you carry out daily activities. Examples of executive functions include attention, planning, memory, and problem solving. SLPs help people improve these skills and use strategies to compensate for them.
A Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist will evaluate each individual’s needs and areas for improvement. Since children are always developing, Pediatric Speech Language Pathologists must consider many other factors in the treatment plan and allow for changes as needed.