A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), or interchangeably Speech-Language Therapist (SLT), is a healthcare professional who provides assessment and treatment for communication disorders and swallowing difficulties.
In order to be an SLP, a minimum of Bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders is required, in addition to obtaining a specific amount of clinical hours. In some countries, a Master’s degree and an international fellowship is also required to be an independent practicing SLP.
The patient will receive a short phone call from the SLP to answer few questions, which will help in determining the type of assessment needed. During the assessment (usually around 45-60 minutes), the SLP will conduct a more detailed interview with the patient (or care giver), and evaluate both skills and deficits. Following the assessment session, the SLP will develop a treatment plan and it will be discussed with the patient and/or caregiver. When developing this plan, it is important to include not only the patient, but also the people in their environment.
The duration of a typical treatment session is between 30 to 60 minutes. The frequency of sessions is determined by the SLP (for example, two times per week, one per month, etc.), depending on the patient’s treatment requirements and progress.
Our SLPs do not use any form of medical or surgical intervention, and they focus on implementing evidence-based assessment and treatment approaches. Instrumental diagnostic tools might be required on some occasions (i.e. audiometer, laryngoscope, etc.).
If you, or your child, have a speech, language or swallowing problem, an SLP may help to assess and treat your condition. While there is no specific age for the patients we treat, SLPs at FHSN recommend that parents wait until a child reaches a certain age, or that acute symptoms stabilize, before treatment commences. If “high-risk” symptoms are observed (i.e. a genetic factor is involved), treatment may commence immediately. However, this all depends on each individual case. Moreover, a home program may be provided for those who do not need a formal treatment program, or those who do not need intensive therapy.
People seek speech and language therapy for many different reasons. However, the purposes of their visit can be similar; they wish to improve their communication with others. Some of the communication issues and problems listed below may warrant a visit to an SLP:
- Unintelligible speech: sounds may be pronounced incorrectly; voice may be hypernasal or hyponasal; phonological awareness may be limited; speech may be stuttered or cluttered.
- Speech, including articulation, fluency, phonation, resonance and voice disorders
- Language, including receptive and expressive language phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, language processing, pre-literacy and phonological awareness
- Cognition, including attention memory, problem solving and executive functions
- Dysphagia (swallowing), including chewing, swallowing delay and aspiration
- Sensory awareness, for communication and dysphagia
- Motor speech disorders (dysarthria and apraxia)
- Aphasia (language problem as a result of neurological disorders)
- Anomia (naming difficulties)
- Genetic disorders
- Developmental delay
- Craniofacial anomalies, such as cleft lip or palate
- Language delay, a child behind in receptive or expressive language
- Cerebral Palsy
- Traumatic brain injury, causing heavy or slurred speech
- Parkinson's disease
Evidence-based practice has revealed that speech and language therapy can help. Many studies have been conducted to test different aspects of speech and language therapy and results have shown therapy to be effective in treating speech problems.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, many patients overcome their speech problems through various different styles of therapy, provided that they receive intense and targeted therapy.
At FSHN, our team maintains strict confidentiality policies, whereby all interactions - beginning from the first phone call or visit - are treated as completely confidential and private.
Our speech and language therapists adhere to the strict code of ethics put forth by the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association (ASHA), which requires that your privacy and confidentiality be maintained during all encounters.
In some cases, we may require a patient to sign release forms to allow us to view reports done by other professionals in your favor, while maintaining your privacy.
If you feel that your child is underachieving in school and is frustrated at his inability to be understood by his peers and his family, causing him to act out negatively in response, then speech and language therapy may be quite helpful.
The clinician will interview the patient or the caregiver about their background, including: birth and development details, medical history, family history, and educational/professional history. You will also be required to sign releases to obtain copies of past test results, medical reports and school records; a copy of the current report card and samples of your child’s academic work are also helpful to your clinician.
There are many things that can be done outside sessions to help overcome speech problems or to maintain communication abilities. Our SLPs provide their clients with beyond-clinic service (i.e. home programs) and follow-up sessions, in order to help generalize the treatment goals beyond the clinical setting.
Evidence-based practice has shown that the chance of maintaining any improvement achieved during therapy sessions becomes less likely if a patient fails to complete assigned tasks. At FSHN, our therapists try their best to avoid this from happening.
As each patient’s case differs, the number of sessions can only be determined once a treatment plan has been set and after a discussion between a patient and his or her speech therapist.
Our fees are determined by the services required for treatment. As our services are based on individualized treatment plans, only after initial evaluation can we properly assess the problem or concern at hand, and accordingly provide more accurate costs of the services provided.
However, we at FSHN urge that fees not deter you from seeking our professional help. As a non-profit organization, with a clear mission of providing the highest quality services for the entire community, we are able to accommodate all income levels, and therefore never decline a patient due to fees.