oh! i know what speech therapists do. they help the kids that stutter.
As many of you probably know already, I am enrolled in graduate school pursuing a degree in speech-language pathology.
And as many of you are probably thinking, what the heck is speech-language pathology?
Well, this post is designated to helping everyone fully understand what a speech-language pathologist does, and basically simplifying it just so you can understand fully why I love this profession so much.
So you all have heard of a "speech teacher" or a "speech therapist" in schools right? I mean many of you probably had one back in elementary school when you were rolling your "r" sound.
And this is where the confusion comes in as to what our profession actually starts. A lot of people think that we are just here to help that little kid sound "better". The kid goes into the speech room for a few minutes, and comes out with a surprise after we drill him with "r" words.
rat, red, ran, road, rake.
poor, care, fair, core, fire.
You know the deal.
Well I am here to say that we are not only here for those "r" sounds. We do SO MUCH MORE. So, you are about to get educated on what an SLP does.
First off, let me explain to you what our national speech-language pathology organization defines an SLP as.
"Speech-language pathologists serve individuals, families, and groups from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Speech-language patholgists address typical and atypical communication and swallowing in the following areas: speech sound production, resonance, voice, fluency, language, cognition, and feeding and swallowing."
Ok ok ok, let me break that down for you.
Speech sound production = those "r" sounds you always hear about, slurred speech, basic motor speech issues.
Resonance = know someone who has had cleft lip/palate? Well we will help get rid of that nasality they are exhibiting.
Voice = Someone talking to quiet? Too loud? Breathy voice? Oh, yea, we can help with that too.
Fluency = The stuttering that some people exhibit, or whenever someone talks........realllllllly...........slow or talksreallyfast.
Language = understanding what people say, expressing yourself, understanding the meaning of a sentence, social skills, reading, writing, focusing attention, eye contact, a lot guys. Just a lot.
Cognition = memory issues? Problem solving? executive functioning? You know all of that important stuff to live a successful life. Once you lose it (stroke? brain injury?) we are there to help you out.
Feeding and swallowing = The food aversions that many children exhibit? Your grandma in the nursing home that can only eat pureed veggies? We help them to grow their swallowing strength, and if they cant, we provide them a way to get the nutrition they need.
So obviously this is extremely BASIC as to what our scope of practice includes, but it will at least give you all a better idea of what our job entails.
We see individuals from the age of 1 day old to 101 years old. Our experience with different types of people is vast, and the types of clients we see is even bigger.
We see those premature babies, those drug babies, see those with autism, down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities, we see those kiddos with cochlear implants (the things that make the deaf hear? yea. God is amazing.), those with dental issues, cleft lip/palate, those with respiratory issues, those with vocal nodules, those with neurological disorders (Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy, etc), those with psychiatric disorders (psychosis, schizophrenia), and many... many... MANY more.
So, as you can see, we don't just sit in an office in a school and help those kiddos out with the articulation issues. Though, we do help that out, that is only a small part of what an SLP does.
We evaluate, screen, consult, diagnosis, treat, collaborate, and most importantly counsel and provide some hope for individuals and their loved ones.
Ultimately, we are responsible for bettering the lives of people who have become so down on themselves because of their communication issues.
We are there to show that patient with a brain injury, that they will get better, and that if they try hard enough they will be happy. We are there to remind them of their strengths and to show them that they will be okay. We are there to provide hope for not only that patient but for that patients family as well. We are there to provide compensatory strategies to help that individual live as normal of a life as possible. We are there to provide some extra hope, support, and ultimately love.
We are there to help you. We are there to help you grow as a person. We are there to make you happy.
Nothing has taught me more about compassion and love than my schooling and clinical experience as an SLP has. I have had the opportunity to help others, to see their face light up when they remembered what day it was, when they remembered who their nephew was, and when someone actually understood them when they were conversing with them.
It really is the most rewarding job in the world.
I hope I have explained everything simply enough to help you understand what all we do in speech therapy, and I hope you understand the importance that SLPs have in this world.
So, sorry for the long post, but I felt like I needed to explain everything a little further. If you have any questions, personal stories, etc please leave a comment below. I'll make sure to respond.