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What is Speech Pathology?

By K T Solis
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Speech pathology involves the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders that relate to speech, language, swallowing, fluency, voice, and communication. A speech pathologist helps people who struggle with speech disorders because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disabilities, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and other problems that can affect speech. People who experience problems with stuttering, speaking clearly, swallowing, and other tasks that make speech challenging can receive the services of a speech pathologist in order to overcome such obstacles. By using standardized tests and assessment tools, the speech pathologist has the ability to diagnose specific problems of each patient. After diagnosing the problem, the speech pathologist devises a treatment plan that suits the needs of each specific patient that needs assistance.

Speech pathology is a career field that can be practiced in a variety of settings. Some professionals in this field may work in schools, while others work in an office or medical setting. Speech pathologists may even visit their patients' homes in order to offer their services. If a person desires to work in the speech pathology field, he or she must first earn a master's degree in this field. If the student earns a degree from a university or college accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, he or she will find it easier to obtain a license as a speech pathologist.

Typical courses offered in a speech pathology graduate program include classes in anatomy and physiology and courses that relate to the mechanics of speech and swallowing. Students will learn about speech disorders and how communication relates to psychology. Since many states require speech pathologists to be licensed, new graduates will have to pass an examination that focuses on speech pathology. They will also need to complete several hours of supervised and professional clinical experience.

Speech pathologists can specialize in different areas, working with either adults, school-aged children, preschoolers, people with learning disabilities, or patients with speech disorders. As a speech pathologist gains more experience, he or she can serve as a mentor to new professionals or advance to an administrative position. In order to be effective in their jobs, all speech pathologists must be able to work well with patients, effectively diagnose speech problems, and treat the various disorders encountered in their patients. Above all, those who seek a career in speech pathology must exhibit patience, good listening skills, and empathy in order to work with patients on a daily basis.

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Discussion Comments

By anon283059 — On Aug 02, 2012

I just read about surfNturf -- amazing stories. My mother had a stroke and is making now a sound "mama." Once she wanted to cry or maybe to talk. My concern was know if there is a possibility of speech improvement, as she is 78 years old. We are from the Philippines.

By comfyshoes — On Dec 24, 2010

SurfNturf-I know that when my daughter took speech therapy there was an online speech pathology site called Linguasystems that sold speech therapy tools.

I purchased a book with articulation exercises and software to offer more practice. My daughter had done the therapy for a few months and it was getting a bit expensive.

If you only have a few sounds to master and know the proper speech formations you can do this yourself. I was paying $75 for a half hour twice a week.

After a while, I got the hang of it and switched to another therapist that was cheaper and only went once a week and practiced with my daughter with my materials.

By surfNturf — On Dec 23, 2010

Sunshine31- Speech pathology jobs are very much in demand and many school districts are offering higher starting salaries for speech pathologists that choose to practice in the school system.

Many speech pathologists work in hospitals and some work in private practice. The speech pathology degree requires a Masters degree for licensure and involves speech pathology courses in audiology, linguistics and anatomy.

Speech therapy pathology is a challenging field that yields many rewards. Helping people control stuttering problems or problems with articulation that have caused them much embarrassment really makes a difference in other people’s lives.

This field is in demand and many speech pathologists earn an average of $50,000 to $75,000 a year. A speech pathologist working with in school speech pathology can earn the equivalent of a teacher with a Master’s degree.

By sunshine31 — On Dec 21, 2010

Speech therapy pathology involves an evaluation to determine the source of incorrect speech patterns. For example, many speech impediments involve problems with articulation.

A speech therapist will perform an evaluation in order to determine the problem with the speech and isolate the troubled sounds.

When a speech pathologist offers an evaluation he or she records the troubled sounds and develops a therapy schedule to correct the unclear speech patterns.

Usually they perform therapy on one sound at a time. The most problematic sound goes first until the sound is mastered.

A common sound that many children and adults have problems with is the S sound. The S sound is formed when the teeth are clenched, but people that form this sound incorrectly often let their tongue protrude outward and form a TH sound instead.

When they make the S sound they form a lisp that makes the word inaudible. For example, the word snake would sound like thnake.

Most children master the S sound by the age of 9. Proper mouth and tongue formations are necessary in order to correct improper speech. This is really the key to language speech pathology.

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