Speech therapy, also known as speech-language therapy, is a specialized type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals with communication and swallowing disorders.
It is performed by a licensed and certified healthcare professional called a speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech therapist. SLPs have specialized training in communication and swallowing disorders and are responsible for evaluating, diagnosing, and treating individuals with these conditions.
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Who Provide Certification?
There are several organizations that provide certification for speech-language pathologists (SLPs), but in the USA, the AHSA is the most popular one. ASHA is a group of professionals who help people with speech, language, hearing, and balance disorders. They want to make sure everyone has access to good communication, and they do this by setting standards, promoting excellence, and advocating for their members and the people they serve.
What are the Requirements?
To obtain ASHA certification in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), individuals need to have a master’s degree from a university that the Council on Academic Accreditation has accredited in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). After fulfilling academic and practicum requirements, candidates can apply for certification before, during, or after completing the Clinical Fellowship (CF) experience.
What are the types of Speech Therapists?
Clinical Specialty Certification is a way for professionals to show that they have advanced knowledge and skills in a specific area of practice. If a professional meets certain standards and qualifications, they can become a Board Certified Specialist (BCS) in that area. This certification isn’t required to practice, but it helps people know which professionals have extra training and expertise.
ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) recognizes independent Specialty Certification Boards that have met certain criteria. Each Specialty Certification Board sets its own requirements for education and experience beyond the standard certification, and they are responsible for reviewing applications and awarding the BCS status to qualified professionals. Currently, there are three Speech-relate Specialty Certification Boards, including:
Pediatric speech therapists: These SLPs work with children from infancy through adolescence who have speech, language, and communication disorders.
Fluency therapists: These SLPs specialize in the assessment and treatment of stuttering and other fluency disorders. They may work with children or adults and use a variety of techniques to improve fluency and reduce anxiety associated with speaking.
Swallowing therapists: These SLPs specialize in the assessment and treatment of swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia. They work with individuals of all ages who may have difficulty swallowing food or liquids safely and effectively.
However, SLPs can also specialize in other fields, including:
- Adult speech therapists: These SLPs work with adults who have communication and swallowing disorders resulting from stroke, brain injury, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other conditions.
- Voice therapists: These SLPs specialize in the assessment and treatment of voice disorders, such as hoarseness, vocal nodules, and vocal cord paralysis. They may work with singers, actors, teachers, or anyone who relies heavily on their voice for work.
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) therapists: These SLPs specialize in the assessment and treatment of individuals who have complex communication needs and may benefit from the use of assistive technology or other AAC devices to communicate.
It’s important to note that some SLPs may work across several categories or have expertise in multiple areas of specialization.
How can a speech therapist help?
Speech therapy can help people with various issues like a hoarse voice or partial loss of speech due to brain damage. Depending on the type of disorder, speech therapy may also be used with other medical or psychological treatments.
It is a beneficial treatment option for various communication disorders, including language, speech, voice, and swallowing conditions. The therapy is customized to the specific needs of each individual, with the goal of enhancing their communication abilities and overall quality of life.
What are the speech therapies they do?
There are many different types of speech therapy techniques that may be used by speech therapists, depending on the specific needs of the individual they are working with. Here are the main categories:
- Articulation therapy: focuses on improving the ability to produce sounds and syllables correctly.
- Language intervention therapy: targets the ability to understand and use language effectively.
- Fluency therapy: designed to help individuals who stutter or have other fluency disorders improve their speech rhythm and fluency.
- Voice therapy: aimed at improving the quality, volume, and pitch of an individual’s voice.
- Oral motor therapy: focuses on strengthening the muscles in the mouth and face to improve speech production.
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC): involves the use of technology or other tools to help individuals communicate if they are unable to speak.
- Swallowing therapy: helps individuals with swallowing disorders improve their ability to swallow safely and effectively.
These are just a few examples of the different types of speech therapy techniques that may be used. A speech therapist will determine which techniques are most appropriate for an individual’s needs based on their specific diagnosis and goals for therapy.
Where to find a Speech Therapy?
Here are the different ways you can find speech therapists near you:
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider: Your primary care physician or pediatrician may be able to refer you to a speech therapy program in your area.
- Check with your insurance provider: If you have health insurance, your provider may have a list of in-network speech therapists who can do therapies at your convenience.
- Use online directories: Many online directories list speech therapists by location, such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) ProFind directory and Speech Buddies.
- Contact your local hospital or clinic: Many hospitals and clinics have speech therapy departments or can refer you to a nearby provider.
- Check with your child’s school: If your child needs speech therapy, their school may offer these services or be able to refer you to a provider in the community.
- Ask for recommendations from friends and family: You may know someone who has received speech therapy in the past and can recommend a therapist they had a positive experience with.
- Search on social media: You can use social media platforms like Facebook to ask for recommendations from people in your community.
Remember to do your research and consider factors such as location, experience, and specialization when choosing a speech therapist. It’s important to find a therapist who can meet your specific needs and work with you to achieve your goals.
Written by: Sittie Ashia Said
Edited and Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Juhairah Magarang-Said