Speech-language pathologists work to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with speech and language disorders. SLPs treat people that have swallowing disorders or speech, language, and communication complications.
Most of these issues are the results of stroke, hearing loss, brain injury, or pathological stress. For instance, a person with a stutter would work with a SLP to correct their speech and break the barriers that hinder their communication.
Speech-Language pathologists also serve as teaching faculty at universities, occupy management positions at clinics or private practices, work to devise better treatments and diagnostic procedures for communications problems, research the behavior related to linguistic disorders, and study human communication processes to advance scientific research.
SLPs work with patients to evaluate needs and level of speech or language difficulty. They assess communication problems with basic reading and speaking tasks and work with their patients to find a suitable path to treatment.
SLPs guide patients in a step-by-step treatment plan to enable recovery. Their patients may be unable to speak or have rhythm and fluency problems, like stuttering, and take many hours of treatment.
SLPs deal with a wide range of speech-language problems like stuttering, harsh and high-pitched voices, trauma victims, neurological disorders, and those born with a cleft pallet or cerebral palsy.
Because of this, they have many responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, the following:
Teach patients correct sounds and instruct them on how to improve their voices
Help patients with little to no speech capabilities learn alternative communication methods like sign language.
Teach reading and writing skills
Practice techniques to strengthen swallowing muscles
Counsel patients and their families on how to cope with problems and overcome emotional stress that has derived from speech and communication issues
Along with creating treatment plans and working through the steps with their patients, Speech-Language Pathologists also have to take care of administrative tasks. These include:
Documenting evaluations and diagnostics
Track treatment progress
Record changes in condition
Complete final evaluations
For SLPs that work as professors in universities or colleges they usually carry out all the previously listed duties as well as creating curriculum for their classes, administering tests, and researching for writing, publishing, and advancing scientific data.
Other SLPs, that work in K-12 school systems, collaborate with teachers, students, and parents to carry out individual or group programs and provide counseling when needed.
Speech-language pathologists often work with people who are frustrated by their difficulties and their treatment plans take time, so it's important they have certain interpersonal and emotional skills to deal with emotionally stressed patients and difficult situations.
Some of the necessary skills include:
Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas about patient's treatment plans and diagnoses. Must correspond with other medical professionals to ensure patient care.
Especially important when dealing with frustrated patients and empathizing with their journey.
Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
They must carefully listen and work with patients to enable treatment. SLPs must pay close attention and concentrate to understand and help patients.
Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. Must listen to patients to determine problems and treatments.
Must be able to empathize with a patient's pain and difficulties. Need to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves since they deal with sensitive issues.
Since it takes long hours, close attention, and overcoming frustrations, a SLP must be calm and work through the process slowly.
Speech-language pathologists may work full-time for a single organization or may have a part-time job that could involve considerable travel time between job locations.
Almost half of all SLPs work in schools, so their environment consists of a classroom or small counseling office setting.
Those with a full-time job usually work a 40-hour work week, frequently as the member of team made up of some mix of doctors, audiologists, social workers, rehabilitation counselors, and psychologists.
And if they work in hospitals, or private practices, they have an environment that is usually cool and well lit. Some have comfortable seats and a setting to help ease the anxiety that their patients have.
A speech-language pathologist may work for a hospital, a private practice, or an educational organization. They work with a range of patients, from infants to elderly people, while coordinating and cooperating with other healthcare and rehabilitation professionals.
They provide counseling to individuals and their families, and use technology to more accurately diagnose and assess speech disorders.
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