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Speech & OT

Should I see a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Better Hearing & Speech Month is celebrated each May. It provides an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage acceptance of communication disorders. This May, we invite you to learn more about the roles of teachers, interpreters, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Audiologists as we celebrate and support all forms of communication.

What are communication disorders?

Currently in the United States, 10% of adults and children live with a speech-language disorder or delay. They may be isolated or may co-occur. Many communication disorders may also be related to another diagnosis such as genetic syndromes, autism, or acquired conditions.

When left untreated, communication disorders can lead to difficulties in school, social isolation, and progressive learning disabilities. Intervention can have a significant impact on the quality of speech and communication—and the quality of life—for most patients and their families.

– Speech disorders impact a person’s ability to produce speech sounds precisely or fluently. They may also involve difficulty with voice or resonance.

– Language disorders impact a person’s ability to understand others and/or express oneself effectively. Receptive language difficulties affect a person’s ability to understand vocabulary, content, and different forms of words. Expressive language difficulties affect a person’s ability to retrieve words, organize words in sentences, and use correct forms of words.

– Social communication disorders may impact a person’s ability to understand and use verbal and nonverbal communication. These pragmatic language difficulties affect one’s ability to follow social “rules” such as adapting communication based on listener and setting, balancing conversations, maintaining topics, and interpreting body language.

– Cognitive-communication disorders may impact a person’s abilities to organize information, pay attention, remember, plan, manage time, and/or problem-solving.

– Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) involve difficulties with feeding and swallowing, which often result from illness, surgery, stroke, or injury

Where do Speech-Language Pathologists work?

SLPs work within many different settings to support people of all ages and abilities. At Gateway, our SLPs work with students within the Gateway School as well as within our clinic and clinical contract sites. Aside from schools and clinics, many SLPs also work within hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, universities, and even within home settings.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Gateway’s SLPs have the technology and training to operate virtually, providing telepractice. Now, with the options of both telepractice and in-person sessions, SLPs have even more flexibility to support clients and their families.

What can I expect in a speech therapy session?

During therapy, SLPs provide training, counseling, and strategies to clients and their families to encourage successful communication and participation within daily routines. Strategies and support are tailored to the client’s specific strengths and needs. When working with young children, therapy often involves play-based practice in order to increase interaction and motivation. When working with older children and adults, therapy sessions often incorporate functional activities (e.g. ordering food, phone conversations) to help carryover communication skills to real-life situations.

Can a Speech-Language Pathologist help my family?

It’s very possible! If you have concerns about communication, it’s a great idea to reach out to an SLP to complete an evaluation. This information helps to guide the plan for therapy and support.

By: Sara F. Semesky, MS Ed, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist

First published on May 18, 2021.

If you’re interested in seeking a speech/language evaluation at Gateway, contact our Clinical Services Department at 410.318.6780.