People often ask what does a speech-language pathologist actually do?
My simple answer is we work on speech, language, cognition and swallowing. We work with newborns to the elderly in a variety of places like homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Let me break down the four areas here:
Speech is how we say things. This includes stuttering, difficulty with a particular sound called articulation, difficulty making a particular sound, voice concerns, slurred speech due to a muscle weakness called dysarthria, and apraxia, which is a discoordination between the brain the muscles required for speech. Speech is how we say things.
Language is not only what an individual says but what they understand and write. This also includes social language skills like knowing when to greet someone or asking if someone is okay.
Planning the steps for a particular activity, remembering tasks, and short-term recall fall under cognition. People may have difficulty with these types of tasks because of a head injury, dementia, or a stroke.
Dysphagia (dis-FAY-zha or dis-FA-ZHA) is the medical term for difficulty with swallowing. Babies to senior citizens can be seen for swallowing concerns. Babies with cleft palates often are seen by a speech-language pathologist to determine the most efficient and safest way to feed them. Seniors may have weakness due to strokes that can affect their ability to safely chew and swallow their foods and liquids.