What is a Speech-Language Pathologist Anyway?
Chances are you have heard the terms Speech Therapist, Speech-Language Pathologist, Speech Pathologist, SLP, SLT, ST, etc., etc. But what do these titles actually mean and is there a difference between them?
In short, no. All of the above terms or colloquialisms refer to a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), who is a skilled, autonomous professional with expertise in the assessment and treatment of disorders of communication and swallowing. A minimum of a master’s degree is required to practice Speech-Language Pathology in Canada and the profession is regulated at the provincial level, which means clinicians abide by a set of standards and regulations to ensure quality care and safety to the public. In Ontario, SLPs are governed by the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO).
Though the profession has a seemingly endless list of names and short-forms, none of them fully capture the scope of the profession, which is quite broad. Perhaps most obvious to the public, SLPs assess and treat those with speech production difficulties, helping people develop their articulation and phonological skills (pronunciation), modify their accents, decrease their stuttering/increase their fluency (as portrayed in movies such as the King’s Speech), and improve their vocal quality.
Many people also know that SLPs assess and treat those with language delays/disorders, helping them to improve their ability to understand spoken and written language as well as convey information verbally and in writing or through alternative/augmentative means (e.g., pictures, iPads, communication devices). For those with social communication challenges (i.e. decreased eye contact, lack of proper greetings and farewells, difficulty taking conversational turns), SLPs help build the foundational skills that will lead to successful communication and interactions in social situations, such as making friends and navigating conflict.
But did you know that SLPs also assess and treat those who have cognitive communication challenges due to neurological diseases or acquired injuries (e.g., stroke, brain injury, or dementia)? SLPs help these clients by targeting underlying deficits in skills such as reasoning, problem solving, and memory as they are imperative to communicating in a coherent and cohesive way.
Lastly, and somewhat surprisingly to most, SLPs are also experts in the identification and management of feeding and swallowing disorders in infants, children, and adults. SLPs have extensive knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the upper aerodigestive tract (i.e. the parts of the body involved in speech and swallowing) and will work with individuals to ensure they are feeding and swallowing safely.
SLPs work in the community, hospitals, daycares, schools, private practice, rehabilitation facilities and many more settings! They collaborate with a long list of healthcare and other professionals to ensure that clients and families achieve the best possible health and quality of life outcomes.
If you find yourself or a family member seeking out services from a Speech-Language Pathologist, make sure to inquire about your therapist’s areas of interest as well as additional training or certifications they possess. At Aurora Speech Clinic, our team has additional training in the following:
Speech and language delays
Social communication disorders- Hanen’s More Than Words certification
Motor Speech Disorders- PROMPTS for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (Introduction and Bridging)
Stuttering (Lidcombe Program for Early Intervention for Stuttering)
Cognitive Communication Disorders (Levels 1 and 2)
Augmentative and Alternative communication- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), Dynavox
Pre-literacy and literacy skills
Feeding and swallowing disorders
And much more! Please feel free to contact us with questions or to book an appointment, and check out the links below for more information.
Stephanie and Jill
Registered Speech-Language Pathologists
Aurora Speech Clinic