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Speech pathology
    FAQs

    Speech-Language Pathology

    What is a speech-language pathologist?

    Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are professional health care providers with specialized training in speech-language pathology. SLPs are sometimes referred to as speech therapists but are trained to diagnose and treat many cognitive-communication disorders and swallowing disorders.

    What conditions does a speech-language pathologist treat?

    Some conditions and disorders that an SLP can provide treatment plans for include:

    Articulation and speech disorders: Conditions such as apraxia of speech or dysarthria can occur in children or individuals who have suffered brain damage. These disorders can make it challenging to create speech sounds or control muscle movement required for speech.

    Language disorders: Language disorders, such as aphasia, commonly occur in individuals who have suffered a brain injury. These disorders make it difficult for individuals to understand speech or written language. In addition, individuals dealing with language disorders can have a hard time using words to express how they are feeling or what they want.

    Social communication: Individuals who have been diagnosed with autism, or similar neurological-developmental disorders, may experience difficulty with communication skills. Speech pathologists can help these individuals learn how to take turns while speaking, how to communicate with different types of people in various settings, and how close to stand to someone while speaking to them.

    Cognitive-communication disorders: Individuals who have been diagnosed with cognitive impairments or disabilities may see an SLP for help with memory, attention, problem-solving, and organization.

    Voice disorders: Voice disorders may be caused by a pre-existing condition such as polyps, cancerous lesions, muscle tension, or damage done to the vocal cords by laryngitis. These conditions can affect the way our voice sounds. Individuals managing a vocal disorder may experience hoarseness or may lose their voice easily. These disorders may also cause an individual to talk too loud or quietly.

    Fluency disorders: Fluency disorders, like stuttering, affect the way an individual “flows” through speech. An individual dealing with a stutter may pause, or use “um” or “uh” frequently in speech. A stutter might also manifest as a repeated sound in a word, like saying “d-d-dog”. Fluency disorders are most common in children but may affect adults as well.

    Swallowing disorders: Swallowing disorders, such as dysphagia, are characterized by difficulty swallowing food or liquid. Individuals with dysphagia may also experience pain while swallowing. Swallowing disorders may be caused by muscular weakness in the tongue, cheek, or throat muscles; brain damage; or esophageal disorders. This can lead to complications such as weight loss and malnutrition.

    What kind of training does a speech-language pathologist have?

    A licensed speech-language pathologist has undergone extensive training in communication sciences. SLPs must have at least a Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from a recognized graduate program, as well as state licensure and national accreditation from ASHA. While pursuing a graduate degree, students of Speech-Language pathology must complete coursework that trains them to diagnose and treat a wide variety of speech, linguistic, swallowing and cognitive-communication disorders.

    Students of Speech-Language Pathology must also receive a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) - the professional certification for speech-language pathology - from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The certification process requires speech pathologists to undergo a clinical fellowship or practicum from a college or university that has a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). This accreditation ensures a standard of academic achievement and clinical experience for providers across the country.

    In addition to the training listed above, SLPs may undergo further training in pediatric care and special education to provide speech and language services to children and individuals with disabilities.

    Do speech-language pathologists work with children?

    Yes. SLPs frequently work with children who are having problems with articulation, language, communication skills, and feeding (swallowing/ chewing problems). Many SLPs undergo continuing education to provide pediatric care for young children.

    Unsure if a provider offers care for children? Book a convenient consultation on Sesame to discuss what services are offered by our speech-language specialists and the treatment plan that is best for your child.

    How do I know if my child requires speech therapy?

    During a speech pathology consultation on Sesame, you can ask about any concerns you have regarding your child’s speech and language development. If your child is having a difficult time communicating, meeting children their age, or not reaching certain speech and language milestones, we recommend that you book a consultation with a speech pathologist to address whatever questions you may have.

    We also recommend that you book a consultation if you have a family history of speech and language disorders, or if your child has been diagnosed with neurological conditions such as Down’s syndrome or autism.

    Do speech-language pathologists treat adults?

    Yes. In most cases, adults experience speech and language problems as a result of brain injury, stroke, or other neurological conditions. Speech-language pathologists often work with a team of health care professionals - such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, audiologists, and rehabilitation caregivers - to provide interdisciplinary care for adults managing brain damage and injury.

    Book a speech pathology consultation on Sesame to ask any questions you may have about what services our providers offer, concerns you may have, or possible treatment options.

    What is the difference between a speech-language pathologist and an audiologist?

    SLPs and audiologists are health care providers that work to diagnose, treat, and prevent health conditions.

    A speech-language pathologist work in a wide range of environments (such as schools, clinics, and professional offices) to help children and adults manage problems related to communication, cognition, and swallowing. Nearly 43% of SLPs work in educational settings. A speech-language pathologist must receive a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and ongoing certification from ASHA to practice independently.

    Audiologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. This includes hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness, and earwax blockage. An audiologist is also trained to administer hearing tests and fit patients for hearing implants. Audiologists commonly work in a private clinic or health care environment (like a physician’s office or a hospital). An audiologist must receive a doctorate degree, as well as professional certification from ASHA.

    If you have any questions about what kind of specialist to see, we recommend that you contact your primary care provider to discuss your concerns and ask any questions you may have about what type of treatment is right for you. In addition, online health care marketplaces like Sesame offer low-cost video audiology and speech pathology consultations so you can get the information you want without having to drive to a clinic.

    How long does speech therapy take?

    The course of speech therapy - like any form of therapy - depends on the patient and the patient’s needs. There is no definite or predictable timeframe for how long this treatment lasts.

    Most speech therapy sessions take about 30-60 minutes. These sessions may take place online over video, or in the therapist’s private clinic. Most therapists will evaluate you or your child’s progress every few months (usually 3-6 month intervals).

    Talk to your speech therapist about any questions you have about your treatment plan. It is important that you remain in contact with your therapist if you have concerns or inquiries about the practice, the length of your sessions, or how your treatment is progressing. This helps the provider adjust treatment to suit your needs, and provides you with clarity on your progress.

    Should I attend my child’s speech therapy sessions?

    The speech pathologist will provide specific direction on whether or not you should attend or sit in on your child’s speech therapy sessions. Speech-language therapy is often performed in conjunction with other forms of support such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, physical therapy, special education, and at-home activities to provide comprehensive treatment for children managing communication and neurological conditions.

    A parent’s participation in speech therapy may vary depending on the needs of the child, or the requirements of a specific session. In addition, the therapist may provide your child with at-home exercises or activities to work on by themselves or with your assistance. Maintaining communication with your child’s speech-language pathologist can help you stay informed about their progress and what requirements may be asked of you to assist them in their treatment.

    Do speech-language pathologists prescribe medication?

    No. SLPs provide therapeutic exercises and activities to rehabilitate or improve communication skills, swallowing abilities, and speech problems. If medical treatment is required to treat a specific condition causing these problems, a speech-language pathologist can refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.

    What happens during a speech therapy session?

    Before you or your child start attending regular sessions with a speech-language pathologist, you will likely have a consultation with a licensed SLP. During this preliminary consultation, the pathologist will ask about the concerns or symptoms you are experiencing. You may also be asked to perform various speech/ cognition exercises to help the provider diagnose the problem you are dealing with.

    After this consultation, your SLP will discuss treatment options with you. This could include regular therapy sessions, at-home exercises, and other forms of treatment (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, special education, or occupational therapy).

    Specific treatment will depend on the patient and their needs. Pediatric patients, for instance, may be asked to perform different exercises than an adult recovering from brain damage. If you have any questions about speech-language therapy, exercises you are working on, or your condition, talk to your speech-language pathologist. It’s important that you maintain open communication with your - or your child’s - therapist to ensure that your treatment is addressing your needs.

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