The title “speech-language pathologist” can be a difficult one to discern. In addition, the shortened “speech therapist” can also be misleading. Speech-Language Pathologists work with children and adults on a wide variety of skills that may surprise you. Speech sounds are not the only skill that SLPs work on! The following list is, by no means, exhaustive of the broad scope of practice SLPs are qualified to provide service in, but rather a list of lesser-known areas of expertise for SLPs. It should be noted that, although all SLPs are trained to treat each of these areas, individual therapists do have areas of expertise, therefore, it behooves you, as a parent or educator, to seek out a therapist with training in the specific areas you seek assistance with.
5 Things You Did Not Know A SLP Works On:
- Reading is a cornerstone skill on which academics become progressively more demanding as a child moves on from elementary through high school. Reading is a language-based task. The same channels through which we process and absorb language are used in reading, but through a visual entryway, rather than an auditory entryway.
- Difficulty reading may reflect a language processing issue which wasn’t as apparent, or was more subtle before reading demands were increased.
- The anatomy used to produce sound and speech are similarly involved (and/or protected) during swallowing. It is this specific understanding of the anatomy and physiology of oral, pharyngeal and laryngeal structures as well as the respiratory system that makes SLPs experts in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders.
- Picky eaters may have underlying swallowing difficulties. Premature infants or children born with craniofacial anomalies have a high-risk of experiencing swallowing deficits and will benefit from intervention with an SLP.
- Problem solving
- Inference making, perspective taking (theory of mind), sequencing of events, memory and executive functioning skills are all needed for daily problem solving. Each of these cognitive skills is involved with or impacted by language processes.
- Thus, a child who experiences difficulty sequencing events or patterns may have a difficult time describing a past event or organizing their thoughts chronologically in writing.
- Understanding social cues
- Social skills, also referred to as pragmatic language skills, are fundamental for successful interactions. Pragmatic skills include the types of interactions a child participates in (requests, comments, refusal, story-telling), interpretation of nonverbal communication, conversation skills (topic maintenance) and the ability to take perspective.
- It is often than when a child has trouble making friends or interacting appropriately may have a difficult picking up on these interaction skills independently and can benefit from explicit teaching of each.
- Hoarse voices or too-loud voices
- Vocal quality, pitch, loudness and respiration all play a role in producing a strong, healthy voice.
- Children who exhibit voices that are frequently hoarse or children who easily lose their voice all together may exhibit some behaviors which are detrimental to the anatomy involved in producing voice. These behaviors can be modified through therapy with an SLP.