What is a Speech and Language Pathologist? More than you think!


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Most people when they think of a speech and language pathologist typically think of articulation or stuttering treatment, but these are just a very small part of our job.

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. ASHAscopeofpractice defines the scope of practice of  the speech and language pathologist in the schools.

What about the roles of a speech language pathologist surprises you?

How can you in your profession work with a speech and language pathologist?


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51 comments on “What is a Speech and Language Pathologist? More than you think!
  1. During my time teaching thus far, I have been lucky to work with SLP’s in different settings. I worked heavily with my students in a private severe profound setting quite heavily, and also have worked with my school SLP in a public school directly and consistently. What was heavily consistent with my work with both SLP’s in these very different settings is the amount of collaboration that is used to truly support the students. In both instances, SLP’s would come into my classroom and run a “speech group” or a “social skills group” where they would act as the head teacher for a class and work on different skills through many different activities. My students have always loved this, of course, because it was, what they thought, a break from classwork time and their teacher and time to have a little fun. But what I also learned through my work with the SLP’s was how important carry through is for the students. Yes, the SLP would come in and work with a group or take a few students out for more individualized instruction. But when the student came back or “normal” class commenced, the speech skills that were being worked on were not to be forgotten. My students would truly benefit from my continuation of the skills they were practicing continuously throughout the day. This required me to work heavily with SLP’s after hours to truly understand what I needed to do, how to do it, and why it benefited my students.
    What still surprises me about SLP’s is the range of roles they actually have. I did not have any idea that they focused on audiology as well as speech, let alone swallowing, pitch, etc. I was shocked to read about how far their services reach as well, from schools, to private care, to correctional facilities. From my experience, a lot of the work I have seen from SLP’s was with students in schools who were non-verbal and teaching them how to use the augmentative communication device or with students who have a stutter or cleft palate, both of which are controlled places where these services are required. SLP’s work on so many different pieces of language in endless environments, and I did not understand truly how wide that range was.

  2. From already taking many special education courses, I have heard “speech-language pathologist” thrown around many times. I have not, however, really looked into what their job entails other than knowing it has something to do with speech from the name. Many of the roles that the SLP takes on did not surprise me such as addressing speech and sound production, resonance, voice, fluency, and language. Where I was surprised, however, was that a speech-language pathologist also addresses cognitive problems such as attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning. At first I did not really know how this played into speech and language, but then thinking further I began to think about communication as a whole. The majority of the time we use language to communicate to others what we are thinking. If students have a cognitive problem that does not allow them to communicate, then an SLD would fit the description to help them. In the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s article Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology it defines the role of an SLP as optimizing an individual’s ability to communicate and swallow to improve quality of life. This would cover beyond just speaking, but any way of communication in general. Another piece of their job that surprised me was that they work with individuals with swallowing disorders. Some of these issues that it mentioned I did not even know existed. Although I do not have to be an expert on each and every one of these disorders, as a special educator I will need to be familiar with them to best help my students with communication disorders.

    When I become a special education teacher it will be very important for me to collaborate with the speech language pathologist. Not only will they know what is best for students with specific communication disorders such as interventions, IEP goals, and supports, but also they can help me know what supports need to be put in place in the classroom. They are the expert in this field, so being able to learn from them and ask lots of questions about any students I have that they are working with will better me as a professional as well as help me help my students succeed in my classroom.

    I am interested to learn about the supports that SLP’s use for specific disorders as well as what their typical day is like.

  3. As I read this article, I was very surprised to learn about the many different roles and responsibilities of a speech and language pathologist. I am not too familiar with all that a SLP does; however, I have learned that they in fact play a significant role in the lives of many individuals. I was very surprised to read that they provide individuals with screenings for hearing loss, facilitate the process for obtaining funding for equipment and services, and the development, selecting, and prescribing of augmentative and alternative communication systems. I was also very surprised to learn that SLPs not only engage in prevention and advocacy activities but they also serve as educators, administrators, and researchers. Finally, due to my limited experience with SLPs, I had no idea that they provide services in such a variety of settings. I have seen them within the school setting and in classrooms but never in health care setting, homes, etc. As I reflected back to my own experience with SLPs, I made a connection to the article because during my student teaching, a boy in my class had some hearing loss and did wear hearing aids. At first, no one knew about the student’s hearing loss, which resulted in him falling behind and having trouble understanding/following directions, letter sounds, etc. When the student was diagnosed with hearing loss and evident that the student needed to wear hearing aids, he refused to do so, which was not helpful either. This student did however attend speech I believe every day and I remember that the SLP was always on top of the student about his hearing aids, reminding him to wear them, making sure that he was being responsible for changing the batteries, etc. Thinking back, I thought it was a little strange because I did not really think it was her responsibility to worry so much about his hearing aids but I just figured that she really cared about the student and was a good educator. Although that may be true, I now understand the reasoning behind her actions. In addition to this, I have had the opportunity to observe the SLP at my school for speech in a pre-school setting, which was a really great opportunity. During this time, I was able to observe many skills and strategies that she utilized and implemented with the students. One thing she always incorporated into her lessons were songs that encouraged all students to sing along and engage in the activities. They also included dancing and movements, which the kids really enjoyed. I never felt that the students knew they were “learning” because it was always fun and interesting while engaging in meaningful learning. Throughout the last couple of years working at my school, I have learned to interact with students in the hallway every chance I get. It started because the SLP would walk the students back to their room and encourage the students to engage in eye contact, say hello to an individual walking by, or respond to one’s question, etc. I like to promote communication with the students in the hallway because it is beneficial and good practice as well as providing an opportunity to get to know students and build positive relationships. One way I can help a SLP I work with is by learning more successful skills and strategies that I can implement and encourage speech, language, and communication. I can also assist the SLP in any way she may need me to during speech time as well as through collaboration and sharing important information regarding students. Finally, I could support SLP with the implementation of interventions, tools, and devices for students and monitor progress.

    • Excellent points, carryover of skills can best be accomplished when everyone is working together. This way the skill becomes more generalized.

  4. I have a unfortunately have a very limited amount of experience with speech pathology. I have sat in on IEP meetings where a speech pathologist was present and spoke about a student and my godson utilizes a speech pathologist because he has a stutter. Therefore, I was very surprised to learn all of the things that a speech pathologist does in this article. I did not know there are so many areas or struggles that they can help with. The idea that a speech pathologist also must put a lot of thought into a child’s development, how a child swallows or how we use our mouths to form words never occurred to me. Ive also changed the way that I think of speech pathology because I used to think of them as a small sub group specialist of special education, but from this article, I can tell they are more than that. I think it is important to work with speech pathologists in a way that makes them a prominent part of a students education so they are not just that random person a student sees ounce or twice a week. This can be done by integrating some of the things that a speech pathologist is doing with a student into the classroom and even updating the pathologist on what is going on in the classroom.

  5. I’ve always had some form of interest or curiosity about the responsibilities a speech and language pathologist are expected to perform in the elementary school setting. In my current school, I know of one full time and part time speech pathologist that services students in numerous classroom settings. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to observe them in action and to collaborate about a particular student assigned to their case load.
    It was interesting to read that speech and language pathologist embrace an intuitive role for identify the difficulties of an English language learner with a communication disorder that stems from their native language or trying to learn a new language like English. Another detail that I found quite impressive is the numerous qualifications and educational professional development that speech and language pathologist need to continue within their career longevity. It amazed me that individuals selecting this career choice need to have a required master’s degree to hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), supervised postgraduate professional experience, pass a national examination and attend required professional development sessions necessary to maintain their CCC-SLP. I found it astonishing to find out the multiple professional roles and activities speech and language pathologists are responsible for that exceeds more than just in the school setting. Recognizing how imperative their role is to diagnosing, assessing, planning, and selecting treatments for individuals diagnosed with a communication disorder even more so in a clinical setting. Lastly, the number of practice settings that speech and language pathologist are deemed important like the health care settings. I never thought their services would be important in the neonatal intensive care units, correctional institutions, or corporate/industrial settings.
    In September of this upcoming school year, I will make sure to take time and ask the speech and language pathologist to fit me in for classroom observations.

    • Thanks for your comments. It is a diverse field that is constantly expanding. I think you would find it interesting to observe a speech and language session.

  6. After reading this I realized how important a Speech and Language Pathologist really is to students with special needs and how many roles they plan. This year in my current classroom I had the opportunity to work closely with one of my students Speech Pathologist’s. Sue would come into my class every week and ask what we were working on along with vocabulary words we were using during the weeks lessons. At first I just gave her the information but after a few weeks I asked her why she used vocabulary words from the class. She informed me that she was there to reinforce what the student was learning in class, help the students feel comfortable with what they worked on (familiar words they have already seen) and help the student use the words in a social conversation. Sue also explained that her and my student would do social stories and talk about home life. When my student explained something Sue would offer ways to communicate back in an appropriate way and then they would practice.
    Reading this article surprised me because I was not aware that Speech and Language Pathologist’s worked on so many cognitive aspects with students and adults. For example attention and executive functioning (which I thought the special education teacher would do). I was also not aware that feeding and swallowing were under their list of roles and activities. I have always thought that would fall under OT.
    Moving forward I see how important it is to collaborate with my schools Speech and Language Pathologist’s when reguarding one of my students. I had a student last year that talked very soft and I could not hear what he said. I consulted with the speech teacher and she informed me that when she had that student on her case load she would use the hand up when could not hear the student and ask them to speak so that their voice was hitting her hands. I tried this and my student responded very well to it.
    I think moving forward I will continue to use the Speech and Language Pathologist as a great resource in the classroom and consult with them for ideas. I also would like to continue to work with them when planning my student’s weekly sessions and ask what they do to help my student so I can continue to work on it class.

    • Thanks for including some real-world examples of what it is like to coordinate with speech and language pathologists. It is by coordinating our services that the children benefit.

  7. My old roommate is a speech-language pathologist who works in a hospital setting, so I have some knowledge on the role of the SLP in a clinical setting. Her focus is on patients who have suffered a stroke and she helps them with their swallowing of foods and liquids. While living with her, she would talk about some techniques used to see how people who have suffered a stroke swallow, like using a special liquid that would show up on an x-ray.

    One thing that surprised me in this article, was that SLP’s work in correctional institutions and in corporate and industrial settings as well. I was curious as to what types of services do they provide people in these settings? Another surprising point the article talked about was how a person’s culture and background can influence their reaction to a communication or swallowing disorder. It talked about how the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (IFC; WHO, 2001) has two components in describing the role of the SLP. I was surprised how the component of contextual factors, including those personal factors such as culture, as well as age, gender, and educational level, can influence a person’s ability to swallow and communicate.

    As an educator in a culturally diverse school, it is important for me to understand how culture plays an important role in how we communicate. Many of my students have reading and writing goals on their IEPs and the SLP would be helpful in increasing student’s fluency in reading and expressing their ideas clearly. The SLP could also provide me with strategies I could use in the classroom to help those students who have difficulties in communication.

    • Just as in the general population the prison population has people with speech and language and hearing difficulties that need treatment.

      In the Corporate world, there are a variety of roles they play too including but not limited to assisting with executives with voice difficulties, decreasing accents and assisting in presentation skills. Here is a great blog on ithttps://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2278238

  8. After attending several third grade IEP meetings this year, I have gotten to know our school’s SLP. I was surprised to learn that SLPs work with students on their prelinguistic communication (ex: joint attention, intentionality, communicative signaling). When thinking of language, I do not automatically associate joint attention with language. It is, in fact, a form of communication that most people take for granted. I’m curious to see how a SLP works with children on their prelinguistic communication.

    Collaboration with the SLP and the general educator is crucial in student’s success. Connecting what the student learned with the SLP and integrating aspects of it in the general education classroom can help the student to generalize concepts learned. Since special education is a team effort, fostering a relationship with the SLP can help support students’ speech and language goals. The SLP can also provide accommodations for students in the general education classroom. For example, she can suggest repeating what a child said for clarification, in order to support articulation; Playing word games to help with vocabulary and word meaning; Provide opportunities that support appropriate social interactions (ex: have the student go to another student’s desk to ask for a material). These accommodations can assist in bridging the gap between speech therapy and the general education classroom. As the general educator it is important to know why your student is going to speech therapy and how that may impact his/her performance in the classroom. This is why good communication between the SLP and general educator can lead to overall achievement.

  9. I had never realized that Speech and Language Pathology included such a wide range of skills. Particularly, two pieces that surprised me were the fact that Speech and Language Pathologists work with cognition skills such as memory, problem solving and and attention. The other piece of speech and language pathology that surprised me was the fact that they also work with feeding and swallowing problems.
    There are many ways in which a special educator would work with a Speech and Language Pathologist in the field. Some of the students I may work with in the future as a special educator may also see a Speech and Language Pathologist. For example a student with Autism may work with a special educator and also see a Speech and Language Pathologist to improve their prelinguistic communication skills.

  10. While reading this blog, I was surprised by many of the roles of a speech and language pathologist. Before reading, I thought speech and language pathologists worked with students to pronounce sounds correctly but they do much more than that. I was surprised to see that speech and language pathologists work with students on cognition skills such as attention, memory, problem-solving and executive functioning. I am not sure who I thought would help students with these cognition deficits, but I was shocked to see that speech and language pathologists do. I was also surprised to see that speech and language pathologists help students with feeding, swallowing Before reading, I thought occupational therapists would have helped students with those skills. I would be very interested to observe a speech and language pathologist.

    As an educator, I think that I can help reinforce the skills that are being worked on with the speech and language pathologist in the general education classroom. I think that I can also help the speech and language pathologist by sharing my observations on students in the general education setting that the speech and language pathologist services.

  11. Admittedly, it seems that I was quite ignorant of what a SLP is/does. My experience with them was limited and most of the work that I knew was happening was being done outside of the classroom. However, after reading, it seems like there is a vast amount that happens both in classes and behind closed doors.

    What intrigued me the most was the broad spectrum of disorders SLPs cover. I was not aware of so many disorders that were associated with a SLP, particularly autism. Furthermore, the fact that SLPs are also a part of curriculum and literacy teams was also surprising to me. I thought that their work resided in servicing students in a 1:1 type atmosphere.

    I really like the fact that a part of the service a SLP gives as student integrates curriculum with the social and communicative goals that a student has. It is important for the students to receive this as well because it inevitably helps them perform better in class. This type of multi-faceted instruction helps strengthen the support from which a student’s education is built.

  12. When I attended URI for my undergraduate degree one of my friends was a CMD major, studying to get her Bachelor of Science in communicative disorders. I thought I had a relatively good understanding of what speech and language pathologists do after seeing her study many times but I was wrong. First I had no idea speech pathologist worked with swallowing issues. I also was not aware they are considered the primary care provider for swallowing disorders.

    I did not know that speech and language pathologists address cognitive problems in relation to speech and language. They work on addressing their memory, attention, sequencing, problem solving and executive functioning.

    I also wasn’t aware that speech and language pathologists also provided counseling services. They are responsible for counseling individuals, families, coworkers, educators, and other persons in the community regarding acceptance, adaptation, and decision making about communication and swallowing. I knew they are involved in diagnosing and providing a treatment for this issue but I didn’t know that they also provide counseling and support to the individuals and family going through this issues with communication and swallowing.

    This past school year I worked with a speech pathologist. In my classroom I had a student with a lisp, she took him twice a week and worked on him one on one with a resource teacher to improve it. As his lisp began to improve he began to grow more confident, he began raising his hand to share out answers and began volunteering to read.

  13. After looking through this blog, there are many roles of a speech and language pathologist that surprises me. I honestly never really knew much about what they did besides helping students that pronounce sounds incorrectly. I was shocked to see how far beyond that their work with students really goes. For example, I had no idea they were the ones who worked on feeding and swallowing skills, I always assumed that was an OT role. I also was surprised that social talk was an area that SLP’s worked on with students as well.

    Moving forward into my first year as a teacher, there are many ways I can work with speech and language pathologists. I am going to come across students in my class that have IEP’s and have speech and language goals on those IEP’s. I think it is important to know their goals and ask questions to the SLP’s on how you as their teacher (who is not trained in this area) can help work on those goals with the students in the general education classroom when the SLP isn’t around. I am always willing to ask for help and strategies that work with certain students. This is definitely one of the many ways I can work with SLP’s to help my students with speech and language goals.

  14. I found this article to be very eye opening in understanding just how much speech language pathologists do in their field of work. Before reading this article, I thought that speech language pathologists played more of a minor role in the education of children, where students with mild to moderate speech impediments would go to try and correct their language or speech issues. After reading this article, I feel that my insight on the amount of work speech pathologists perform has grown tremendously. Speech pathologists conduct many different types of work, including clinical work as well as understanding how the human body works and performs to correctly help students with their disabilities. My point of view about speech pathologists has shifted, understanding that they are a vital aspect of the special education team.
    After reading this article, one role of a speech pathologist stuck out to me as something I would never guess falls under their occupation. The category entitled, “feeding and swallowing,” which included qualifications such as, “oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal, orofacial myology (including tongue thrust), and oral-motor functions,” are all a part of a speech pathologist’s role within the school community. This category is very eye opening to me, as a speech pathologist has a wide variety of roles that many may not think fall under this occupation, but in fact do. At first I did not understand why this was a category of speech pathology, but I then thought about a student’s pronunciation of words, how swallowing works, and how many components are involved in this category to understand the importance of feeding and swallowing. I truly believe that general and special educators can benefit from collaborating with speech pathologists. Speech pathologists can help teachers identify students who may need extra help with language, as well as students who may have trouble in the areas of memory, problem solving, sequencing, and attention which all fall under the aspect of cognition deficiencies. By collaborating, teachers and speech pathologists are able be proactive to oversee and correct speech and language issues. After reading this article, my awareness for just how much speech language pathologists do to help within schools will help me to be a better special and general educator, understanding different ways students with disabilities may be able to receive treatment.

  15. Two things that surprised me about Speech and Language Pathologists is their work with social skills and also the swallowing aspect.

    The swallowing I just never really thought about where that would fall under special education. So I just never realized it was included in one of the roles of the Speech and Language Pathologist.

    For social skills, I found it interesting that this falls under the role of the speech and language pathologist. I have had many students with Autism who went to Speech and Language Pathologists and now that I look back on it, it does make sense why some days my students with autism were allowed to bring a friend to play a board game with. I think social skills are very important for students to learn, so I think it’s great if more than more person is working on those skills with students, so I like that this is a skill they work on.

    I work with speech and language pathologists within special education. My students have been pulled out of my class in the past to go work with one. I do wish there was more time in the day for teachers so I could check in better with them. It was harder when I worked in a private school because the speech and language pathologist was hired by an outside provider and sent in to just work her hours with the students and then leave, which left little time to connect with them to see what was being done. The students were not always able to explain what they did, as part of their communication need, so I hardly ever knew what was going on during those pull outs. So it was very interesting to read what a speech and language pathologist actually does and how many skills they actually work on.

  16. One thing that surprised me about a speech-language pathologist is that the help kids who have trouble swallowing. I always associated speech and language with just how someone communicates but did not know they could help a kid learn to safely swallow. The second thing that surprised me what the speech and language pathologists need at least a master’s degree plus additional hours and a national exam to practice. When I was in college they had a speech and language Bachelor’s degree but was unaware that those students would need to continue to a Master’s program before finding a job.

    As I work in a small charter school, we have a speech and language pathologist in the school only a few hours a week so as teachers we do not get to interact with them very often. To improve upon this in my profession, at the beginning of each school year when I receive a new group of students I will check with the special educator to see who receives speech and language service and how they could receive extra support to help them reach their goals. Once I find out what they are receiving services for I can reach out to the speech and language pathologist on strategies I can use in the every day classroom, not just with the one or two kids who receive services but also everyone in the classroom so the few kids do not feel singled out.

  17. After reading this article, I was very interested with all that speech pathologist do in all. As an elementary educator, I was aware of how and when speech pathologist work with students, but not exactly clear on what they do with them while they are working on their goals. I was also surprised to learn that speech pathologist do so much with swallowing and feeding disorders. This is not something that I had thought would fall under this category until now and it makes perfect sense!

    As a classroom educator, I find it super important for the speech pathologist and classroom teachers to work together to create success. I have seen students work with the speech pathologist provided from the school and work with outside speech pathologist. At times, I find that there is a disconnect with the providers due to service time and tie in general. After reading this article and reflecting upon all that speech pathologist do, I will make that extra effort to reach out and incorporate all ways to assist and serve all students.

  18. I have a few friends who are Speech and Language Pathologists in all levels of education. At my school, I have had numerous students meet regularly with the SLP and I have always seen the various roles and responsibility that the SLP takes on. Despite all of this previous knowledge, I still learned a lot. The major standpoint for me was learning more about the importance of swallowing and made me realize that many students with communication disorders would have issues with this. In previous classes, we had discussed figuring out whether a student who is an English Language Learner has a communication disorder or is just struggling with learning the language. This is truly the role of a speech pathologist, which I can only imagine is no easy feat.

    A favorite collaboration I had with the SLP in my school was working with a student who struggled with communication and social interactions. He was not my student, but he would pass my room on his way to meet with the SLP. A goal she had been working on with him was engaging people in conversations, specifically greetings and asking questions about people’s lives. The SLP and student used my classroom and students to work on this goal. Everyday when he would walk by, he would knock, give a hand gesture for my attention and I would open the door for him. At first it was baby steps, but the 5-10 minutes of the SLP and student’s meeting time was dedicated to real world communication. Knowing the student 3 years later, it is clear that the hard work put forth by the SLP strongly benefited the student’s academic and personal goals and growth.

  19. The wide range of disorders that speech pathologists work to improve was very surprising to me. It became quite clear that speech pathologists need an immense amount of knowledge about the various disorders and how to treat them. This made me even more impressed by those that are speech pathologists. I also found it surprising that speech pathologists treat problems with feeding and swallowing. Problems with feeding and swallowing were not disorders I had really though about before but now that I’ve read this article it does make sense these disorders would be treated by a speech pathologists as they have such a great understanding of how our mouth muscles work.
    In reading about where speech pathologists work I was surprised to see correctional facilities was listed. I hadn’t thought about the need for speech pathologists in a correctional facility but now I could see that certain populations could need those services like the recently disabled or people with lifelong speech problems.

    In my profession I have already found small instances where working with a speech pathologist is necessary. One student worked on improving a lisp and the speech pathologist gave his teachers, myself included, ways to help him in the general ed classroom. Another instance involved an ELL who seemed to have some setbacks in understanding content. We had the speech pathologist assess him to see if his troubles came from learning a new language. These two instances will continue to happen as I go through my teaching years, meaning that collaboration with speech pathologists will be an ongoing occurrence. I will also collaborate with speech pathologists in Professional Development. Speech pathologists often educate other professionals about the disorders they treat and what general educators can do to help in the classroom.

    • Thanks for giving examples of how the speech and language pathologist and the classroom teacher can work together.

  20. After reading this article, I have developed an awareness for how much speech-language pathologists actually do. I always thought of speech-language pathologists as helping students with stutters and other speech impairments, however, I did not realize all of the clinical services they provide. According to the article, their objective is to “optimize individuals’ ability to communicate and swallow, thereby improving the quality of life.” When I think of a “speech-language pathologist,” I do not associate helping students swallow as a service they provide. However, it makes sense considering your throat affects how you speak and how you communicate with another person. In addition, I work in an urban school and I have many students who are ELL. I know it is extremely hard to decipher whether or not a student has a communication disorder or whether or not it is the consequence of learning a new language. Knowing that speech-language pathologists have to differentiate between the two gives me a new appreciation for their job.

    While reading the list of professional roles and activities, I became overwhelmed by how many speech and language disorders they need to know and understand how to treat. Also, they have great responsibility in terms of the clinical services they provide to their patients. They can also serve as administrators, researchers, and educators, as well as work in a variety of settings. I am glad I read this article because I have a better understanding of how much speech-language pathologists do. Not only do they help with speech and language, but they can also help with cognition deficiencies in attention, memory, sequencing, and problem solving. In my experience, I do not believe that educators collaborate as much with speech-language pathologists as they should. They have a wealth of information and I believe we should use their services more often.

  21. I experienced first hand what it was like to work with a speech language pathologist when I was a young child. I had the most common type of disorder, which was in articulation. I would see her every few weeks in a school setting for a couple of years and eventually received the help I needed with success. After reading the document I was surprised to find out the multitude of other services they provide, especially the swallowing and feeding abnormalities as others had commented. Not only that, but also being responsible for selecting and fitting prosthetic and adaptive devices for those abnormalities. I assumed that would be the responsibilities of medical doctors. I have a friend who is a speech language pathologist and I know her schooling and training was intense. Now she works in a hospital setting, but I’m not exactly sure what her specialty is. After reading the document I now have a better understanding of the breadth of the profession and I’ll also have a better understanding of what my friend does.

    As an educator it is important to be able to collaborate with the speech language pathologist in order to improve outcomes for a student receiving those services. It is essential to collaborate, especially if they are part of the IEP team. I have and presently do collaborate with speech language pathologists as a teacher. Depending on the students need, we share and give advice on what best practices to use. Whether it is working on vocabulary words, reading texts, or practicing oral communication, the speech language pathologist lets me know what the student needs are.

  22. What surprised me the most about the role of a speech and language pathologist is that they work with swallowing disorders. I wasn’t aware that these had existed and it was a condition that could be treated in a school environment. The quality of voice was not another aspect that caught my attention; I realized that some of my students could benefit from working on this with an SLP.

    As an educator, I have been able to offer minor contributions on how well my students have interacted and communicated with other students and adults in the classroom. It was always a very informal exchange right before the SLP had taken a student out during class time.

  23. The initial cartoon in the very beginning of the blog really struck me as this was something that I had wondered for a long time prior to studying the world of education. In school when I was younger, I did not quite understand what students were doing when they went to ‘speech’ and this had always caught my interest.
    I honestly did not realize how much speech pathologist really did, especially as far as the physical aspect that affects speech such as swallowing. This is such an important component of someone’s everyday life and if a speech and language pathologist can have a role in helping someone with this, they have a very important job.
    The comments on this blog post were really interesting. I enjoyed seeing what past students had to say about their experience with speech and language pathologist, especially since I don’t have any personal connections to this. Though all of the responses saw the role as a speech and language pathologist as extremely important, each response found them important for a different reason. Whether this was for a personal reason or for realizing how many people speech and language pathologists assist in this world, they had their own reasons for why they saw this occupation with such importance.
    When thinking about speech and how prominent it is in one’s day-to-day life, the role of a speech and language and pathologist is so important. After knowing how much they do for those who they work with, it is clear how important this occupation really is.

  24. A Speech and language pathologist is specialist with a role to assess, diagnose, treat and help prevent speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, fluency and other related disorders. Speech and language pathologists have many job responsibilities besides working with students or patients on communication disorders. Even though it is very obvious I find it so interesting the two major tools that a speech and language pathologist needs to use when working with a student or a patient is their listening and observation skills, because they are looking for things that the average person might not recognize as a communication disorder or deregulation. Speech and language pathologists need to listen and observe to see where they need to work with their students or patients to help them with their communication needs. The most surprising role of a speech and language pathologist is their role as a teacher. Speech and language pathologist treat communication disorders but they also help students learn new vocabulary to create an expanding word bank.

  25. After just completing my first year of teaching, I feel as though I have been immersed in the roles of many members of the school team. A large one being the SLP. Several students of mine have speech related goals on their IEP and meet with an SLP multiple times a week. I assumed that the SLP helped students “correct their Ss” and “lose their lisp”. After conversations with fellow educators and the SLPs themselves, I was shocked to know exactly how much they do when they work with students. Especially the wide range of students (ASD, communication and swallowing disorders that relate to hearing impairments, TBI, neurological impairments.)

    SLP has interested me ever since I began to learn about communication related disorders in my undergraduate experience. I am eager and excited to learn more.

  26. When I began my student teaching placements in my senior year at Providence College, I found out that I would be working closely with the speech pathologists in the school. As stated in this article, I too, also immediately associated speech pathologists with students with stuttering problems and the physical mechanics of producing sounds. However, I quickly learned that my students with language disabilities were going to see the speech pathologist on a weekly basis. Many of these students had difficulty with comprehension and written expression. The speech pathologist played a major role in helping them to acquire and further these skills. The speech pathologists also helped my students with Autism understand the gravity of a problem, and to use social stories to help them understand social situations. As a future special educator, it will be vital for me to work closely with the speech pathologists in order to target the most areas where students are having the most difficulty.

    I would be curious to observe a session with a speech pathologist in order to understand how their sessions differ amongst students. I believe that they serve as a crucial part of the puzzle in meetings and as a part of the educational team.

  27. My first thought on the blog was that someone purposely chose the most difficult words they could find. I saw words like “breadth”, “transdisciplinary”, and “etiologies”; all words I had no idea the meaning of, so it was difficult at first for me to get invested in the reading. After I got past that, and began reading more I realized how many different services that Speech Language Pathologists provide. There was even stuff I never would have never thought of, like the swallowing. I would have never guessed in a million years that swallowing falls under the same category as communication.
    I also liked how it talks about how Speech Pathologists have to determine whether communication or difficulties experienced by an English Language Learners are a result of a communication disorder in their native language or a consequence of learning a new language. I found this fascinating because I work in a High School that has high number of ELL students, and I’ve seen a great number of them have to go to the speech pathologist at the school. I imagine that has to be one of the most difficult jobs of a speech pathologist; having to figure out if their speech issues are a result of their native language or having to learn a new language. ]
    I also liked how it says that the services provided are based on applying the best available research evidence, using expert clinical judgments, but still considering the clients individual preferences and values. I’d like to know more about the expert clinical judgement and how this information is gathered and tested. I want to know what makes these clinical tests “expert judgement”.

  28. I was amazed that Speech and language pathologists have to deal with feeding and swallowing in the same capacity as communication. I have naively always thought it was just about the sounds that came out of a child’s mouth. Feeding and swallowing to me are a much more medical side and I didn’t realize how much medical background SLPs had.
    The social communication aspect also surprised me but it is because I was putting communication itself in separate boxes and not seeing the fact that social skills go hand in hand with communication so obviously and a SLP would need to deal with social communication.
    The last thing I was also very surprised at was the counseling of family, friends or educators on acceptance, adaptation and decision making about communication and swallowing. I know that when you work with any families you need to be accommodating sensitive to their needs but I guess I would have thought the kids would need counseling not the people they are in contact with.
    I think if I ever work with a SLP I will be plucking their brain way more than I thought I could. I will definitely be running everything I talk to the parents about through them. I’ll also see if the accommodations and modifications I am using in my classroom for all my kiddos is actually beneficial and hopefully gain a lot of useful information from them I can immediately use to make my teaching more effective!

  29. When I first started working in the school system, I thought that Speech Pathologists just treated articulation problems. After being a special education teacher for several year, I know realize that a speech and language pathologist is a vital member of the team, especially with the younger kids.
    Many of my students do not only have articulation goals but also language goals. It did not occur to me that the “language” in speech and language was actually more expressive and receptive. A lot of my students have difficulty with “word finding” and holding a conversation.
    I work with my slp daily. I am always asking questions and looking for their opinions on how to help make my lesson more accessible for my students and what changes to make.

  30. When I first heard the words “Speech and Language Pathologist,” I was very surprised because I had never heard them before. In my country, those that do that kind of work can be counted on the fingers of my hands. Children with learning disabilities are not given special care. More so, children like that are usually kept away from school and an education. Only in larger and more developed cities are those with learning disabilties given the care and thought they deserve on some level. I would very much like to meet those who would with those who are SP and experience what it is like to be in that field, extending a helping hand to those less fortunate. Hopefully, that will one day come true. Agreeing with most of my peers, I believe that educators and SP should work together and form a stronger harmony in their fields.

  31. I think speech and language pathologist is extremely important for people who have stutter or have lisp. I was surprised that their role is very essential for them. In addition, They can work with children who have feeding disorder and swallowing, in my view.

    When they ran into a problem, they may have an opportunity to work with the students and teach them many ways that they can use effectively.I have learned many things about how speech and language pathologist working with students and families

  32. I think speech and language pathologist is extremely important for people who have stutter or have lisp. I was surprised that their role is very essential for them. In addition, They can work with children who have feeding disorder and swallowing, in my view.

    When they ran into a problem, they may have an opportunity to work with the students and teach them many ways that they can use effectively.I have learned many things about how speech and language pathologist working with students and families.

  33. When I think about the role of a Speech Pathologist, I envision a person who works closely to understand someone, and get to the root of how they can communicate. More importantly, perhaps, to find out what they want to communicate.
    What I find surprising is the role of prevention. Does this involve early intervention work? How can parents start to identify issues early on?
    I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with a Speech Language Pathologist who was passionate about discovering how her students could communicate. She taught me that Language is only a part of communication and that time spent to know your student, client, etc is crucial to gaining trust. The trust she build with our students and her collaborative efforts with the staff and families allows for consistency and progress.

  34. Speech and Language Pathologists play a crucial role in a student’s social and emotional development and academic achievement. Communicating your wants, needs, and thoughts effectively can be frustrating to a student who is unable to communicate due to a language disorder.
    After reading the article, many questions arise. My first question is, when a Speech and Language Pathologist services a student in the classroom setting or in a one on one session “speech closet”, how can the teacher collaborate with the therapist to ensure the goals are being met in the classroom. For example, if the Speech and Language Pathologist services the student in a one on one session, how can the teacher implement the strategies used in their sessions to ensure proper carryover? This leads into my second question, if the student is receiving additional speech and language services in a private practice, how can the team collaborate and build a relationship with the outside service provider to ensure all modifications are being implemented successfully. My last question is in regards to ELL students who are autistic. How can Speech and Language Pathologists distinguish whether the student’s speech and language is due to a language barrier or a language delay or disorder?

    • Excellent questions:

      Speech and Language Pathologists and teachers should collaborate as this teamwork will have the best outcomes. The best way is from the beginning or at the development of the IEP. If the team develops the goals together there then came be a coordination of goals and a good discussion of a plan for the year.

      Personally I use a combination of a push in and pull out model of treatment which gives me the opportunity to both see first hand the academic demands being placed on a student as well as a place to model some strategies. This type of co-teach model benefits all as typically the amount of time that the speech and language pathologist sees a student is an extremely small portion of a child’s school week. If for example I have modeled a vocabulary lesson the teacher both the special educator and the regular educator can reinforce this lesson throughout the week and give me feedback as to whether the child has indeed been able to learn the new concept.

      In terms of private practice or outside treatment if the parent gives permission ( needs to be written ) then you are able to contact the private therapists.

      Again how this has worked for me in my work with students at URI has been different for different students.
      * For a student with the diagnosis of apraxia and severe receptive and expressive language difficulty the coordination took place around literacy. Each week the teacher would email the words being worked on and the results of any progress monitoring.
      * For a child with autism spectrum disorder the teacher would email us the concept that was going to be worked on the following weeks for us to review vocabulary and give the student more exposure to the topic prior to it being introduced in the class.

  35. The challenges that Speech Pathologists (SP) face surprised me because when I think of the role of the SPs, I think of the physical mechanics of speech, placement of the tongue and teeth. I also have some understanding of pragmatics, social skills and scripting. The cultural, physical and biological factors are something entirely new to me

    The range of students also impressed me and surprised me, disabilities vary from brain injury to autism, and the people/students they service are vast. The role of the SP is immense; I can see the SP’s roles as a nurse, teacher, guidance counselor, family and school coordinator. These are clearly are not the titles but the education and roles of a SP is much more detailed than I thought.

    A few questions:
    Are SPs included in grade leader or team planning meetings? They certainly should be!
    Do the SPs utilize a home/ school communication book?
    Do SPs usually have a specialty field?
    Do SPs attend IEP meetings?

  36. I had taken an undergrad class that was an introduction to speech pathology and my roommate majored in it. So, I did somewhat have an understanding of what speech pathologists did. What surprised me most of their roles were that they worked on language comprehension and expression. I thought this would be an area that the classroom teacher or reading teacher was responsible for but, it’s great that students can have that extra professional for support. Their responsibilities are much more expansive then I first thought them to be. They seem to have many options as to what kind of environment they choose to work in.
    As a classroom teacher you often work with specialists. If i saw a student I thought needed interventions for speech, I could speak to a speech pathologists and we could decide whether they’re a good candidate for referral. Also, I could get some ideas to implement in my own class from a speech pathologist and they could let me know what to look for in students. I believe kindergarten students are automatically tested for speech. but I’m not sure,

  37. My Aunt is a Speech and Language Pathologist. I never realized how much she is responsible for and how important her job is to the development of children’s language. Their job goes beyond working with fluency disorders, like stuttering, and speech delays, like articulation and phonology. They do work with communication and swallowing disorders that relate to hearing impairments, TBI, neurological impairments. They also can work with adults, children and infants on swallowing and feeding disorders which I was unaware effective language until our first class.

    As a secondary Mathematics teacher, I can do my best to continue to reinforce skills and techniques that the children are using to be successful. I can also reach out for help to find effective ways to explain and teach new material.

    Question: I am wondering if it is better for the speech and language pathologist be fluent in the language of the child they are working with. This way they understand the pronunciation of the different letters, syllabus and words? Or can they be just as effective if they don’t?

  38. As a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students, I spend a great deal of time collaborating with Speech and Language Pathologists. There were several things that surprised me about SLPs when I first started working with them a few years ago. I did not expect them to put in so much time working on pragmatic skills, social skills, memory, problem solving, and executive functioning skills. Many of our students struggle with these things, and the SLPs at our school are a wonderful resource, and work hard at improving these skills for our students.

    As a teacher who teaches deaf and hard of hearing students, it is my responsibility to make sure that the SLPs at our school who work with my students know what content is being taught in class. This allows them to work on these types of skills in context with the students, which makes what they are practicing more meaningful to them. I also report to them when I notice weaknesses in pragmatics, social skills, memory, or executive functioning because they have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the students to teach them strategies that I can reinforce in their day-to-day at the school.

    I would love to know more about how a session with a student who needs work on pragmatics, social skills, memory, or executive functioning might look like.

  39. Wow! The work of a Speech and Language Pathologist is extremely intense! One thing that I really never realized was the component of feeding and swallowing. I always thought that these were simply self help skills. I’ve never associated the need to develop these skills to speak.

    As an educator, I feel that I can help reinforce the skills that are being worked on with the children in my everyday involvement with the child. It’s also important to be very observant of any new things you see the child doing or not doing throughout the day.

    Kudos to Speech and Language Pathologist everywhere!! 🙌🏽👏🏽👌🏽

    • Swallowing is a relatively new skill for speech and language pathologists in fact it was not part of my graduate studies. However swallowing first began with adults who had sustained an injury or had a stroke and now has extended into the schools with children who have significant disabilities and need feeding therapy.

      According to American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA): Although some speech-language pathologists have been involved with the management of oral feeding and swallowing disorders in children with cerebral palsy since the 1930s, the focus on swallowing disorders increased exponentially in the 1970s with published articles on clinical or bedside assessment and management (Larsen, 1972) and, subsequently, on the use of such instrumental assessment procedures as cinefluoroscopy/ videofluoroscopy, followed by sonography, endoscopy, manometry, and scintigraphy (ASHA, 1992; Miller & Groher, 1993).

      An Ad Hoc Committee on Dysphagia developed the Technical Report of 1987. It provided a definition of dysphagia, presented guidelines for clinical preparation of speech-language pathologists and for intervention with patients/clients, and identified research needs. The report indicated that speech-language pathologists were providing services according to different models, and in some settings might decide not to become involved in providing services for individuals with dysphagia. In 1985, 35% of speech-language pathologists surveyed reported that they provided dysphagia services. At that time, a speech-language pathologist’s ability to assess and treat individuals with swallowing and feeding disorders was limited by at least two factors: speech-language pathologists could not be reimbursed for dysphagia treatment by Medicare unless the dysphagic individual had a concomitant communication disorder; and access to training and education opportunities in dysphagia at the graduate coursework and practicum level was not widely available.

      A dramatic increase in demand for swallowing and feeding services in all settings (hospitals, outpatient facilities, long-term care, home health, schools, early intervention programs, and neonatal intensive care units) has resulted in an increasing percentage of speech-language pathologists routinely providing services for individuals with swallowing and feeding problems. In 1999, 46.9% of speech-language pathologists reported that they regularly serve individuals with dysphagia on their caseload; the percentage exceeded 91% for professionals working in hospitals and residential health care settings (ASHA, 2000). As the inclusive practice model and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) dictate that intervention for children with complex medical problems be provided in educational settings, the involvement of speech-language pathologists providing services to individuals with swallowing and feeding disorders in those settings will continue to grow.”

      Your students are lucky to have you as so much more progress is made when everyone works as a team to reinforce skills.

  40. Two roles that I read in the article that surprised me about Speech and Language Pathologists was that they work with ELL students and people who have experienced Traumatic Brain Injury. I was wondering how does a Speech and Language Pathologist determine whether and ESL student has a Communication issue verses a language issue? The reason why I am interested in this topic is because I have an ELL Certificate in the content area and it would add to my knowledge about this complex subject. I think special education teachers, regular education teachers and ESL teachers can work together as a team to determine whether a child who is ESL may have a disability or is just trying to learn a new language. I think team effort is most important in finding the root cause of Learning disabilities as well. Another question I have is the article mentioned swallowing a lot as a role of the speech and language pathologist and I was wondering what they meant and I was very confused on that area. If anyone could elaborate that would be appreciated.
    Has there been an uptick in speech pathologists working with wounded veterans who have come back from the war with a traumatic brain injury? If so how do speech and language pathologists help this wounded warrior cope with a life changing injuring while trying to help them relearn a language?

    • Good questions:

      ELL students: It is important that we don’t equate lack of knowledge with English with a disability. If we have a student that we are concerned about that we see either in the case history or when we are interacting with the family that English may not be the first language we first refer to the ESL teacher for a screen in language with the family’s permission. The ESL teacher will determine English proficiency. If there are questions about the child’s abilities in their own language then the services of a bilingual therapist are engaged to conduct the testing and to give cultural information to the team.

      According to ASHA ( American Speech and Hearing Association):”For many other aspects of speech, language, and hearing, assessment and remediation are much more complicated by the client’s use of a minority language. For example, the phonemic, allophonic, syntactic, morphological, semantic, lexical, and pragmatic characteristics of a minority language cannot be adequately assessed or remediated without knowledge of that language. Further, auditory discrimination and speech reception thresholds may be difficult to assess without the ability to test in the minority language.

      Voice qualities, such as harshness, breathiness, loudness, pitch, and the production of clicks and glottal stops, vary across languages. These factors may make it difficult to rule out vocal pathology when the examiner is unfamiliar with the vocal characteristics common to a given language.

      Hesitations, false starts, filled and silent pauses, and other dysfluent behavior may be exhibited by a bilingual speaker due to lack of familiarity with English. Thus, differential diagnosis of true stuttering from normal dysfluency may be difficult if the examiner is unfamiliar with the client’s use of the minority language.

      Identification of prosodic or suprasegmental problems is extremely difficult if the examiner is not familiar with the prosodic characteristics of the minority language. Even when the examiner is familiar with the given language, dialect differences within that language may be a confounding variable in assessment.

      There are also cultural variables that may influence how speech-language pathology and audiology services are accepted by minority language populations. Differences between minority cultures and the general population in traditions, customs, values, beliefs, and practices may affect service delivery. Thus, speech-language pathologists and audiologists must provide services with consideration of such cultural variables, in addition to consideration of language differences.” http://www.asha.org/policy/PS1985-00219/ retrieved July 1, 2015

      Brain Injury: This has consistently been part of a speech and language pathologist’s scope of practice and been one of the first areas especially with the adult population that was worked on especially because of war. In the schools what we see most often is brain injury as a result of an accident ( car, bike, near drowning). Usually, the child will first be in a rehabilitation center or hospital prior to re-entry to school so that the school team will work with the medical team to make the transition and to continue to work with them to maximize functioning and carry over treatments into the school.

    • I was thinking the same thing as Athan, I had a bunch off ELL students this school year. It would be interesting to know if screening happens in our area for children who don’t speak English in their native language.

      Anyway, I was surprised to read how much speech and language pathologists do and are responsible for, even involving their own healthy lifestyle!

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