Specialization in the field of Speech-Language Pathology

Specialization in the field of Speech-Language Pathology
Speech-language pathologists are trained to indentify, evaluate , treat and counsel persons with a variety of communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists work with children and adults who have speech, language, social, vocal, fluency, cognitive, eating and swallowing disorders. These disorders may result from either developmental delays or acquired disorders including: total or partial hearing loss, brain injury from stroke or head injury, learning delays/disorders, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, syndromes, cleft palate, oral and laryngeal cancer, autism and social skill delays. Speech-language pathologists also work in the area of accent reduction.

When seeking the services of a speech-language pathologist it is important to inquire if they have specialized training or extensive experience in the areas related to your needs. As a result of formal training (Master’s Degree and certification requirements), speech-language pathologists are knowledgeable on a wide range of speech and language disorders; however, it is important that you work with a speech-language pathologist who has experience in the specific area that you are seeking help for.

For example, if you were seeking services for a child with a diagnosis of developmental dyspraxia of speech (sometimes called apraxia), you would want to hire a speech-language pathologist who specializes in: 1. pediatrics; 2. developmental dyspraxia of speech (as opposed to acquired dyspraxia of speech); 3. oral motor therapy; and 4. in the case that the child had severe dyspraxia and was not able to meet his communication needs using natural speech, the therapist should also have experience in the area of augmentative-alternative communication (AAC).

Another example would be if you were seeking services for your elderly grandmother who is experiencing short term memory problems and coughs through her meals you would want to hire a speech-language pathologist who specializes in: 1. geriatrics; 2. dementia; and 3. acquired oral motor and swallowing disorders.

Be sure to ask the speech-language pathologist how many years of experience he/she has and with what type of population of patients. Also ask the speech-language pathologist about their formal training in area you are seeking services for as well as how she/he keeps up with the latest research and therapeutic techniques. If the speech-language pathologist does not have a specialization in the area you are looking for help with, ask for a referral to another speech-language pathologist who is an expert in that particular area.

For more information about qualifications of a speech-language pathologist and how to find the right therapist for you, read the article Finding a Speech-Language Pathologist.

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