Speech Pathology

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Speech pathology is the assessment and diagnosis of communication disorders, which includes difficulties with speech, language use, swallowing, fluency and voice. In turn, the responsibilities of a speech pathologist are varied, and may include working with parents of a new born baby with a cleft palate, the treatment of swallowing disorders following stroke, training teachers in reducing voice strain, working with individuals that stutter, as well as providing information and rehabilitation to patients who have suffered from a brain injury.

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Speech pathologists use assessment tools to diagnose each person’s specific problem and devise a treatment plan that best suits their needs. When selecting intervention approaches, speech pathologists will take into consideration the nature and severity of the problem, the age of the individual, as well as the individual’s awareness of the problem. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association , the aims of treatment are to:

  • Help individuals with articulation disorders to learn how to say speech sounds correctly
  • Assist individuals who stutter to increase their fluency
  • Assist individuals with voice disorders to develop proper control of the vocal and respiratory systems for correct voice production
  • Help children with language disorders to improve language comprehension and production, including grammar, vocabulary, conversation, and story-telling skills
  • Assist individuals with aphasia to improve comprehension of speech and reading and production of spoken and written language
  • Assist individuals with severe communication disorders with the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, including speech-generating devices (SGDs)
  • Help individuals with speech and language disorders, as well as their partners and families, understand the disorders to achieve more effective communication in educational, social, and vocational settings
  • Advise individuals and the community on ways to prevent speech and language disorders
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Speech pathology is practised in a wide variety of settings including schools, hospitals, aged care homes, universities, kindergartens, rehabilitation centres, community health centres, private practice and mental health services. Speech pathologists regularly work as part of a multidisciplinary team, often alongside physiotherapists, occupational therapists, doctors and nurses.

Will my child’s speech or language problems cause difficulties with academics or social interactions?

There is the possibility that impairment in the speech and language areas can have a detrimental effect on academics and social interactions. It is also known to have a negative impact on self-esteem. However, these are all factors that can be addressed with treatment.

Did I do something wrong parenting my child to cause my child’s speech difficulties?

Absolutely not. Parents do not cause speech and language disorders. However, there are things parents can do to exasperate or ameliorate areas of difficulty.

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