Have you ever seen or heard children stutter and struggle with forming the right words? Speech impediments are a type of learning disorder where “normal” speech is disrupted. The diagnosis of the speech disorder is done through a series of tests that are clinically validated and administered by educational associations as per the standards of learning.

Understanding Speech disorders

Speech disorders may manifest in the following forms in increasing order of severity or magnitude:

  • Phonetic: Person does not produce requisite sounds consistently or meaningfully, though he/she produces some aspect of the sound.
  • Stimulated sounds: Person needs to be stimulated to produce the requisite sounds
  • Muteness: Person cannot produce the desired sound even after stimulation.

It is a form of problem with expressive language wherein the person faces a challenge with sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings. Mismatch in various speech aspects such as articulation, fluency, resonance and voice leads to illegible communication by the patient. The solution to restoring speech capability as far as possible is to seek treatment by a speech therapist.

What does a Speech therapist do?

Speech therapy or pathology is a field of therapy that deals with the evaluation and assessment, counseling, rehabilitation and preventive actions to enable people with speech disabilities lead a normal life. The various roles played by an SLP include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting research in the field
  • Advocating the practice by identifying needs and creating awareness
  • Program administration i.e. actual practice in medicine
  • Development of adequate product and tools for treatment
  • Consult with families for education of the challenges in educational settings

Standard practices and procedures have been created by international associations such as American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA).

How can I make a Career as a speech therapist?

Undertaking a professional degree beginning with an undergraduate, graduate and then a Masters level qualifies one to be a practicing professional in this field. Two legs of careers for a speech language pathologist are as follows:

  • Educational Settings: As counselors and advisors to special cases in educational institutions such as pre-school, middle and higher school and universities.
  • Health Care and Medical Settings: A masters or doctorate clinical degree accredited by a governing body.

The nature of work calls for full-time, part-time or needs-basis employment model depending on the location, demand. For clinical practitioners, professional certifications and clinical accreditations are required which ensure that a certain number of hours are spent administering programs and gaining live experience. The profession is growing and established areas of work in the developed nations with at least 55 countries have accrediting bodies that govern the standards and practices in the field.

Knowledge and Skills

The focus of a professional in this field is to enable and empower the patient to speak effectively. This involves:

  • Psychoacoustics i.e. the scientific study of sound perception that is also called as the study of a person’s physiological and psychological responses to sound. This is an input to his speech responsiveness.
  • Cognitive linguistic science: The study of language as a mental phenomenon including grammar construction, mental grammar and semantics.
  • Instrumentation devices related to speech: Medical tools that affect the vocal tract, computerized tools for comparative assessments and prosthetics that aid speech.
  • Counseling: Understanding the problem and ability to gradually administer learning to the patient through persuasion and therapy
  • Knowledge of neuro-linguistic disabilities i.e. the study of the human brain and impact on comprehension, production and association of language.

Speech therapy and pathology is a highly specialized field that requires a combination of technical and behavioral skills to aid a transformative journey and create better lives. Moreover, to find out more, then visit here.