Speech therapists, or speech pathologists, diagnose and develop a treatment course for people who suffer from stutters, cognitive communication impairments, and vocal problems. They treat people whose speech problems are rooted in emotional problems, physical impairments, and learning disabilities.
Speech therapists monitor the progress of the patients and change the treatments, as needed. They study the patient’s speech/language and hearing test results and their medical history to diagnose and make a treatment plan for their speech disorders, which could affect their language, speech, swallowing, and fluency voice. They administer tests, evaluations or examinations on their speech or hearing to gather information on the type and extent of impairments. Their tests are usually written, oral, and with special instruments. During exams, they record information of their initial assessment, treatment, and progress. They also document the patient’s discharge.
Speech therapist duties
It is also a speech therapist’s responsibility to create and implement treatment plans for patient suffering from delayed language, stuttering, swallowing disorders, voice problems that could either be harsh or inappropriately pitched, and more. They usually develop the plan with the help of psychologists, physicians, and social workers.
Speech therapists create group or individual programs for students to deal with their language or speech problems.
But when they have to deal with individual patients, they teach them about effective communication techniques, such as lip reading, sign language, and voice improvement exercises. They also educate patients on strengthening or controlling their tongue, face muscles, and jaw and how to breathe properly. They even create speech exercise programs to help patients cope with their disabilities.
Some speech therapists work with medical staff or educators regarding hearing or speech problems, speech and language stimulation, and communication techniques. They also educate both patients and family members on how to cope with the former’s speech problems to minimize misunderstandings.
For patients with more complex speech issues, they design, make, and use alternative communication devices and techniques. In the case of students, they enlist the help of the educators to help the kids by giving them lessons and therapeutic or educational games.
Find out more about How to become a speech therapist.
Speech therapist education
When their professional help is no longer enough, speech therapists refer their patients to other professional educational or medical help.
To keep their knowledge current, speech therapists must join training programs and conferences or publish research results, to spread the word about the different treatments of speech or hearing disorders.
Their abilities allow them to talk to non-speaking students, although they also use computer technology or sign language.
If they happen to have patients who are not native English speakers and don’t know much about the dialect, the speech therapists step in to communicate with the patients. They use computer applications to help them cope with their patient’s communication problems.
Speech therapists conduct research on the different hearing and speech problems and use the results of these tests to develop procedures, techniques, technologies, and treatments.