We all have a need to express our wants, needs, and feelings to others. We also need to be able to understand what others express to us so that we can participate in interactions and form relationships. Communication is an integral part of human interaction and speech-language pathologists are the experts in communication.
A Speech-language pathologist, also called an SLP, is a highly-trained healthcare professional who evaluates and treats children who have difficulty with speech, language, and/or communication. Speech-Language Pathologist must have at least a master’s degree in the field of speech-language pathology and a license to practice. It’s best to look for a speech therapist that is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This means the therapist has passed a national exam for certification. You may see these initials after their name, M.S (Masters of Science), CCC (Certificate of Clinical Competence), SLP (Speech Language Pathologist).
A common misconception about Speech-Language Pathologists is that we only work with individuals that have trouble making certain sounds (articulation) or who have stutters or lisps. A family would seek the aid of a Speech-Language Pathologist if they have concerns regarding their child’s development in any of the following areas:
Speech-language intervention should begin as soon as possible. Children that begin services before the age of 5 years old have been found to show more improvement. This does not mean that children older than 5 will not make progress, it may just be at a slower rate because they often have already developed maladaptive behaviors that need to be transformed.
Using specialist skills, speech-language pathologist work directly with children and their families and provide them with tailored support. They also work closely with teachers and other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals and psychologists to develop individual treatment programs.
Services are typically scheduled weekly and may last for months or even for a few years. It depends on the individual child’s needs. For more information check out, What to Expect the Day of the Evaluation.
Parent involvement is crucial to the success of a child's progress in speech-language intervention. Parents know the most about their child. Therefore, they play a significant role throughout the entire process. Parents should be involved in the evaluation, interpretation of results, and development of a treatment plan. Children who complete the process fastest and with the longest-lasting results are those whose parents have been involved.
The process of overcoming a speech-language delay and/or disorder can take some time and effort, so it's important that all family members be patient and understanding.