Who are Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP)?
SLPs are professionals who help individuals with communication impairment. In India, these professionals are trained rigorously through Under Graduation and Post Graduation in Universities/ Colleges recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India.
Few become experts in a particular branch/ area following additional specialization/ fellowships/ certification and clinical experience to identify, assess and manage pathological conditions impairing communication. SLPs work in Hospitals, Clinics, Schools, Institutions and also do private practice.
The term ‘Speech-Language Pathology’.
In all fairness, the term itself is not justified to cover the scope of practice in the field. Speech Therapy is only a part of what is done.
What SLPs deal with.
Language Disorders -Receptive and Expressive Language Disorders, Cognitive-Linguistic Disorders, Neurogenic Language Disorders, Speech Disorders -Voice, Fluency and articulation, Motor speech Disorders and Feeding/ Swallowing Problems
Who should consult with a SLP
Children who have not started speaking/ does not speak age appropriately; children who don’t speak clearly, children with hearing impairment/ visual impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Learning Disability; individuals with stuttering, individuals who suffered stroke/ Traumatic Brain Injury; Individuals with voice problems; feeding and swallowing issues; oral and throat cancers; various syndromes that cause communication problems, Parkinson’s Huntington’s Chorea, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s. (List can expand. So let’s just say, anyone with a communication problem!)
Who SLPs work with.
Audiologist, ENT, Neurologist, Pediatrician, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Dentists, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Special Educators, Social Worker (depends on the need)
Importance and Need.
SLPs are qualified and specially trained to deal with each of the disorders mentioned above through careful observation, demonstration, training and practice under supervision. There are several levels and phases of training that SLPs undergo to understand the intricacies and adhere to service delivery models based on evidence- based practices. Communication is an important part of our social life and so, it impacts the quality of life. A communication breakdown leads to several social and emotional problems. It affects the entire family and not just the individual with the problem. A SLP helps you deal with such issues as an important member of the team involved in treatment.Untrained individuals will NOT have such expertise to deal with these issues. They appear to know the superficial details but will NOT be providing the required level of training and management due to their lack of knowledge and awareness. A person who is not trained and certified cannot practice as a ‘Speech-Language Pathologist’. Please make sure to be aware of the services and resources you can avail. Also, verify if you’re actually receiving what you’re entitled to.