WHAT IS AN SLP?


Speech language pathologists (SLP), also called speech therapists, are trained professionals who diagnose and treat communication disorders along with swallowing impairments. They work in many settings, with various development disorders, and with victims of TBI, stroke, or other neurological impairments. 
Communication is more than the ability to speak and be understood it also includes the ability to hear, understand, and make sense of the communication that is a part of our day to day lives. Communication is complex and SLPs are trained to provide evidence-based treatment in the following areas to resolve communication and swallowing problems.

Intelligibility:
Intelligibility is the ability to be understood when talking. Impairments of intelligibility are often called articulation disorders, phonological processes disorder, apraxia, and dysarthria

How an SLP can help:
-Determine the sounds made in error and if there is a disorder
-Determine any underlying causes or speech break downs
-Instruct and teach correct positions and movements for speech
-Provide activities that encourage sound development

Reading/literacy:
An impairment of reading or literacy impacts a person’s ability to understand written communication. It is identified by the difficulty of following the flow of a story, understanding what is happening, and the ability to predict what will happen next. SLPs are not trained to diagnose or treat dyslexia.

How can an SLP help?
-Determine the level at which reading is impaired
-Develop strategies to improve reading comprehension
-Provide tasks and activities that encourage reading comprehension

Stuttering:
Stuttering is breaks in the flow of speech (fluency) which can be distracting to communication partners. It is often in the form of repetitions (sounds, words, or phrases) difficulty getting a word out (called blocks), and interjections (um, but, and, like). 

How can and SLP help?
-Determine times of increased stuttering 
-Develop strategies to increase fluency
-Provide activities that encourage fluent speech

Voice:
Voice disorders can be identified with slow rate of speech, lack of breath support for speaking, how loud you can speak, or difficulty speaking with inflection (monotone)

How can an SLP help?
-Determine the cause of the problem 
- Provide vocal use strategies to increase our ability to communicate.

Language:
A language disorder can be present in children an adults. In children it is seen as a delay on when a child talks or if they are able to follow directions, imitate, or engage in activities. In adults a language disorder is seen as a difficulty talking, finding the right word, and understanding what others are saying.

How can an SLP help?
-Determine the problem impacting communication
-Provide strategies and alternative forms of communication if necessary
-Provide tasks and activities that encourage the use and understanding of speech.

Hearing:
Hearing problems are identified by a hearing loss and difficulty hearing different speech sounds (Central Auditory Processing Disorder- CAPD). An SLP is not qualified to diagnose hearing impairments but is qualified to remediate speech and language due to hearing loss or CAPD.

How can an SLP help?
-Train communication partners and be an advocate
-Instruct on alternative forms of communication
-Implement strategies to benefit communication in all areas (school, home, social settings)

Swallowing:
A swallowing problem is identified by coughing and choking during meals. While everyone can find themselves coughing during a meal, it becomes a problem when it happens every day or several times a week.

How can an SLP help?
-Determine the weak muscles or body part that is impairing normal swallowing
-Provide strategies for increased strength and mobility
-Provide possible diet changes to stop coughing and choking episodes

Cognition:
A problem involving cognition is identified by difficulty paying attention, a poor memory, difficulty problem solving and making safe/appropriate decisions, and difficulty organizing information and tasks.
How can and SLP help?
-Identify the areas that are impaired
-Provide independent strategies for increased memory, attention, safety, organization
-Provide tasks and activities that encourage increased cognition

Social Communication:
A problem communicating for socialization is identified by poor eye contact, difficulty taking-turns during conversations, acting inappropriately during social situations, and the lack of desire to want to be around other people. A social communication disorder can affect children and adults. It is most often associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

How can an SLP help?
-Determine the areas that are impaired
-Provide education and training on social conversations and settings
-Provide strategies and tasks to increase self-awareness in social settings
-Provide strategies and tasks to increase situational awareness in social settings

Alternative forms of Communication:
Sometimes children and adults are unable to use spoken communication, while others feel more comfortable with alternative forms. When this is the case, electronic communicators, pictures, or sign language(ASL) is provided to aid and benefit those individuals. 

How can an SLP help?
-Determine the most effective and most beneficial alternative form of communication
-Provide communication devices and picture boards
-Instruct in basic level sign language (some are trained to instruct in complete ASL)

Information gathered from the following websites: 
 http://www.asha.org/events/slp-summit-glossary/:
 http://www.asha.org/public/speech/