Speech Language Therapy

What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

A speech-language pathologist is a health-care professional educated and trained to evaluate and treat children and adults with speech, language, cognitive, and swallowing problems. Anything that impairs your ability to communicate can limit your life, yet 14 million Americans have a speech or language problem, and many do not know that they can be helped. If you stutter, have problems pronouncing certain sounds, or do not always understand what people say to you, you could have a speech or language problem. People of all ages have these problems. With proper treatment you can eliminate or minimize their impact.

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What Services do Speech-Language Pathologists Provide?

Speech-Language Pathologists provide a variety of professional services aimed at helping people develop effective communication skills. These include but are not limited to:

  • Helping people with articulation disorders learn proper production of speech sounds.
  • Helping people who stutter speak more fluently.
  • Assisting people with voice disorders improve their voice quality.
  • Helping people with aphasia relearn speech and language skills, including reading and writing.
  • Assisting people who have difficulty swallowing as a result of illness, surgery, stroke or injury, oral/pharyngeal ​strengthening or compensatory strategies, diet modification, and positioning to swallow and eat more safely.
  • Advising individuals and the community on ways to prevent speech and language disorders.

Speech Language Disorders

Brain Injury or Stroke

Acquired Language Disorders are disorders acquired after language has developed. This may be the result of any interruption within the brain. Most typically it is the result of a stroke or head injury, but can be the result of disease.


Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the language centers of the brain. The most common cause of aphasia is a stroke, but traumatic brain injuries, tumors, or other sources of brain damage can result in aphasia. Aphasia patients can experience language impairments both expressively and receptively as well as in reading and writing.

Articulation and Phonology

An articulation disorder is the disruption in the development and/or use of speech sound production, it is primarily characterized by substitutions, distortions and omissions of speech sounds in words. A phonological disorder is the disruption in development of the processes governing speech-sound production.

Auditory Processing Disorder

An Auditory Processing Disorder is the inability to process information through the auditory channel. More simply, an individual has the ability to hear accurately however does not understand the message appropriately. This disorder is characterized by an absent or slow response which may or may not be accurate. Most likely the individual needs repetition of information or is assisted by additional information through other sensory channels (sight, touch etc.).

Voice Disorders

A voice disorder exists when pitch, loudness, and/or vocal quality differ from an individual’s habitual or normal speaking range. It is commonly a result of chronic misuse or abusive behaviors (smoking, tension, excessive yelling, etc); however, it can often be the result of a neurological disorder of some type.

Dysarthria and Apraxia

Dysarthria is a speech condition stemming from a neurological impairment in which the muscles of the mouth, face, and the respiratory system have become weak, dis-coordinated or may lack function. Dysarthria may be characterized by slurred or whispered speech, drooling or poor saliva control, chewing or swallowing difficulties, and/or limited tongue, lip or jaw mobility.


Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia, can occur at different stages of the swallowing process.

  • Oral Phase: Sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat.
  • Pharyngeal Phase: Triggering the swallowing reflex, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway (aspiration) or to prevent choking.
  • Esophageal Phase: Relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the feeding tube in the throat (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach.

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