Speech pathology is a specialized area of medicine practiced by an individual called a speech-language Pathologist or speech-language therapist, both of which may be spelled as speech-language pathologist or speech language therapist. Their job is to diagnosis, plan and treat disorders of speech articulation and communication that interfere with a person’s ability to communicate and interact normally in the workplace, at school and in social settings. Speech pathology also encompasses pediatrics, which involves diagnosing and treating children with disabilities that affect the development of their voice and speech. Speech pathology also includes the field of audiology, which address the diagnostic treatment of disorders of hearing, and the descriptive therapy of speech disorders, both at the same time. See website for more.
The field of speech pathology in the United States began at the University of Illinois at Champaign, which has received numerous national awards for its work in speech pathology. In addition, the University of California – Davis has long been a prominent place for speech pathology research and education. The American Speech Language Disorders Association has been working actively on issues surrounding the management and treatment of individuals who have developmental disorders that involve speech.
One of the most common types of disorders affecting the speech centers of the brain are dysfluency, a difficulty with fluency in speech; stuttering, a difficulty with pronunciation; rhythm, a disorder of body movement related to speech; and swallowing, a need to have smooth swallowing movements to prevent the passage of food, saliva and other material from the mouth into the esophagus. Speech pathology specialists deal specifically with these three types of speech-related disorders. Speech and language therapists are often involved in treating patients who exhibit signs of these disorders, but may not yet have had their appropriate evaluation and treatment. Some speech pathology specialists specialize only in treating children. Those involved in this field work closely with a wide range of individuals, including school administrators, school counselors, parents and teachers, physicians, mental health professionals, families and the public in order to provide assistance to individuals with speech sound disorders.