7 Questions You’ve Wanted to Ask a Speech Pathologist

1. What’s the difference between a Speech Pathologist and a Speech Therapist?

Nothing, really. They are interchangeable.

2. What does a Speech Pathologist do?

Speech pathologists can evaluate, diagnose and treat a variety of language and speech disorders and delays. Speech delays and disorders are common in children. Seeing a speech pathologist early can help set the child up for a more rewarding and successful social and academic childhood.

3. What kind of education/certification does a Speech Pathologist have?

A Speech Pathologist will have their Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences & Disorders or Speech-Language Pathology. They will also complete a clinical fellowship year through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to receive the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), which fulfills the licensure requirements to practice in most states.

Speech pathologists may also obtain their Ph.D. or SLP.D., both of which are doctoral degrees for advanced training and research.

4. A Speech Pathologist just helps someone who has trouble speaking, right? Like stuttering?

A speech pathologist helps individuals with a variety of speech and language processing disorders as well as feeding and swallowing issues. Some of the disorders speech pathologists diagnose and treat include:

  • Articulation (pronunciation of sounds)
  • Auditory Processing
  • Stuttering/Cluttering
  • Social Skills/Pragmatics
  • Dysphagia, a swallowing condition
  • Expressive and Receptive Language Disorders
  • Reading Comprehension and Literacy
  • Phonological disorders
  • Voice disorders

5. Do Speech Pathologists only work with children?

No. Speech pathologists work with individuals of all ages including the elderly suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Aphasias —an impairment of language resulting from a brain injury such as a stroke.

6. So, if speech and language issues are so common and the problem probably corrects itself, why see a Speech Pathologist?

Yes, speech disorders are common but the repercussions can be long term. When children suffer from a speech disorder, they are limited in their communication. This makes their ability to interact with teachers, peers and family a consistent struggle directly affecting their self-esteem and ability to achieve their social and academic goals. Most importantly, they will be able to communicate appropriately in times of distress.

Diagnosing the speech disorder allows a speech pathologist to develop a proper path to treatment helping the child overcome their disorder. The earlier a child can start treatment, the likelier they are to experience a more fulfilling childhood, especially in school. They will learn how to effectively communicate with teachers, will comprehend what others are saying more successfully, and maintain a solid academic foundation.

7. When would an adult need to see a Speech Pathologist?

The elderly or adults with diseases or disorders would often see a speech pathologist to assist with feeding, swallowing or speech. For adults, it’s common for to seek the help of a speech pathologist under the following conditions:

  • Post-laryngectomy
  • Accent Reduction/Modification needs
  • Neurological Disorders such as Cerebral Palsy
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Aphasia
  • Dysphagia
  • Traumatic Brain Injury caused by accidents such as motorcycle accidents


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