pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess, diagnose,
treat, and help to prevent disorders related to speech, language,
cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency.
pathologists work with people who cannot produce speech sounds or cannot
produce them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems,
such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as inappropriate
pitch or harsh voice; those with problems understanding and producing
language; those who wish to improve their communication skills by
modifying an accent; and those with cognitive communication impairments,
such as attention, memory, and problem solving disorders. They also work
with people who have swallowing difficulties.
Speech, language, and
swallowing difficulties can result from a variety of causes including
stroke, brain injury or deterioration, developmental delays or
disorders, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, voice
pathology, mental retardation, hearing loss, or emotional problems.
Problems can be congenital, developmental, or acquired. Speech-language
pathologists use special instruments and qualitative and quantitative
assessment methods, including standardized tests, to analyze and
diagnose the nature and extent of impairments.
pathologists develop an individualized plan of care, tailored to each
patient's needs. For individuals with little or no speech capability,
speech-language pathologists may select augmentative or alternative
communication methods, including automated devices and sign language,
and teach their use. They teach patients how to make sounds, improve
their voices, or increase their oral or written language skills to
communicate more effectively. They also teach individuals how to
strengthen muscles or use compensatory strategies to swallow without
choking or inhaling food or liquid. Speech-language pathologists help
patients develop, or recover, reliable communication and swallowing
skills so patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social
keep records on the initial evaluation, progress, and discharge of
clients. This helps pinpoint problems, tracks client progress, and
justifies the cost of treatment when applying for reimbursement. They
counsel individuals and their families concerning communication
disorders and how to cope with the stress and misunderstanding that
often accompany them. They also work with family members to recognize
and change behavior patterns that impede communication and treatment and
show them communication-enhancing techniques to use at home.
pathologists provide direct clinical services to individuals with
communication or swallowing disorders. In medical facilities, they may
perform their job in conjunction with
other therapists. Speech-language pathologists in schools collaborate
with teachers, special educators, interpreters, other school personnel,
and parents to develop and implement individual or group programs,
provide counseling, and support classroom activities.
pathologists conduct research on how people communicate. Others design
and develop equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating speech
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.