In America, about 10% of people have communication disorders that negatively impact their lives. These disorders can cause people to be reclusive or to feel like they are damaged, or less important than other people.
According to speech studies, by the time a child reaches six years of age, 5% of them suffer from noticeable speech disorders.
Communication is one of the highest priorities in our lives. Communication helps us in our personal and professional lives. Speech disorders have negative impacts on contact because they stop others from being able to understand precisely what we are saying.
Speech and Language Therapist Duties
Speech and language therapists are professionally known as speech and language pathologists.
These professionals are health care professionals who work with children and adults who have speech disorders or difficulty swallowing.
Some of their many duties include:
- Evaluating the severity of a person’s speech disorder
- Evaluating the severity of a swallowing problem
- Finding the root cause of a speech or swallowing problem so it can be addressed
- They develop a plan to help the people with speech disorders to speak more clearly
- They use exercise techniques to strengthen muscles so people can swallow without difficult
- They work with the hearing impaired with aural rehabilitation so they can communicate more clearly with the hearing world
Before you can work as a speech therapist, you will need to go to school, do a clinical fellowship, pass the Praxis exam with a grade no lower than 162 points out of a possible 200 points, and be certified by both the ASHA and the state you plan to work in.
Degrees you need
You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a relative field—one of the most popular majors in Communication Sciences & Disorders.
You will then need a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology.
Clinical Fellowship Requirements
When studying for your Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, 400 hours of clinical experience will be part of your training. Your clinical learning does not end there.
You will need to be mentored by a licensed professional for a minimum of 1,260 hours of clinical fellowship.
This assessment exam measures the ability of the person to diagnose the severity of the problem a person suffers and then apply the skills they have learned to treat the condition.
You will have two and one-half hours to complete the 90-question exam.
Your grade on this exam will determine if you can be a licensed therapist at that time.
Making a difference in Stroke Victims
When a person suffers a stroke, their ability to speak and understand spoken words may be affected. The muscles that help you swallow may also be affected, and the person may have difficulty eating or drinking because of this.
A speech therapist works with the stroke victim to restore their communication abilities and ability to swallow without choking.
Exercises such as strengthening the tongue by moving it from one side to another, moving the tongue up and down, or even sticking the tongue out of the mouth and then retracting it help with speech and swallowing.
The therapist may have the patient smile to strengthen facial muscles. They may even have them purse their lips in a kissy face. These seem like simple steps, but each helps improve specific powers that the patient needs to speak and swallow.
Word games are often played with the patient to strengthen cognitive ability and memory. These games are designed to retrain the brain and help the patient communicate and understand spoken communication.
Improving the ability to swallow (Dysphagia)
When a person cannot swallow properly, they may choke and could have a life-threatening episode. The inability to swallow correctly also causes people to drool or allows food to slip from people’s mouths.
The speech therapist addresses these issues and helps the patient to take control.
The pathologist will help people suffering from dysphagia to take control by strengthening their muscles and teaching them to change the foods they eat or cut their foods into smaller portions.
The medical professional helps to teach people to reposition their bodies when they are eating so they have less trouble swallowing.
They also teach their patients how to put their food in their mouths in different ways to improve their ability to swallow on the first try.
These improvements make the quality of life for patients with dysphagia better.
The therapy can help alleviate pain associated with swallowing; It can also help the patient not gag or choke when they try to eat.
They give people the confidence they need to eat in public, and they assure them that each time they try to eat or drink, they are not possibly taking a risk with their life.
Making a difference in the life of a child
Speech therapy for children entails more than teaching children how to pronounce words correctly. Pronunciation is a part of the therapeutic training, but it is not the main focus.
Speech therapy improves articulative disorders that cause a child to be unable to speak so other people can understand them.
They also deal with conditions like stuttering and fluency disorders that keep the child from being able to communicate clearly.
The therapy also addresses resonance disorders to improve the pitch and volume at which a child speaks. This is critical therapy for children with hearing disorders.
By working with a compassionate therapist, a child will have an improved quality of life. The child will be able to make people understand what they need and what they have to say.
The child will also be ridiculed less by other children because of the improvements in their ability to speak. Ridicule from other children may not seem very important, but when a child is bullied, they lose self-esteem, lack confidence, and generally feel bad about themselves.
The speech pathologist helps children with these disorders feel empowered. The therapist can help the child have a brighter outlook on life.