Speech therapists (ST) provide a wide range of services, mainly on an individual basis, but also as support for individuals, families, support groups, and providing information for the general public. STs work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Speech services begin with initial screening for communication and swallowing disorders and continue with assessment and diagnosis, consultation for the provision of advice regarding management, intervention, and treatment, and providing counseling and other follow up services for these disorders. Services are provided in the following areas:
- cognitive aspects of communication (e.g., attention, memory, problem-solving, executive functions).
- speech (phonation, articulation, fluency, resonance, and voiceincluding aeromechanical components of respiration);
- language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatic/social aspects of communication) including comprehension and expression in oral, written, graphic, and manual modalities; language processing; preliteracy and language-based literacy skills, phonological awareness.
- swallowing or other upper aerodigestive functions such as infant feeding and aeromechanical events (evaluation of esophageal function is for the purpose of referral to medical professionals);
- voice (hoarseness (dysphonia), poor vocal volume (hypophonia), abnormal (e.g. rough, breathy, strained) vocal quality. Research demonstrates voice therapyto be especially helpful with certain patient populations; individuals with Parkinson’s Disease often develop voice issues as a result of their disease.
- sensory awareness related to communication, swallowing, or other upper aerodigestive functions.
Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, or emotional issues.