Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speech, language, fluency and voice. They work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, dementia and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language. People who experience difficulties swallowing food and drink safely can also be helped by a speech pathologist.
Using assessment tools, speech pathologists are able to diagnose each person’s specific problem and devise a treatment plan that best suits their needs. Speech pathologists are specialists who work with people across their entire lifespan. An adult might visit a speech pathologist to help them understand and find the right words to use after a stroke, while a child might need treatment to help their expressive language(putting words together and being understood) or receptive language (understanding instructions and meanings). Speech pathologists also work with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), devices that help people who find it difficult to speak or write to communicate more easily. This can include ‘unaided systems’ like signing and gestures or ‘aided systems’ like picture charts, books and special computers or devices.
Speech Pathologists work with many different people with lots of different communications challenges.