The Lingraphica Blog

Better Hearing and Speech Month: The Role of a Speech Language Pathologist

May 15, 2016 | by Faye Stillman, MS, CCC-SLP/ATP


In the last few years, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and stuttering all made big screen debuts in three Oscar-winning films: Still Alice, The Theory of Everything, and The King’s Speech. These films worked to raise the awareness of frequent speech, language, and cognitive disorders thousands of individuals are diagnosed with each year.

It also opened the door for greater discussion around the health care professionals who assist with the care of each disorder. The professionals, often called, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) evaluate and treat children and adults who have difficulty with speech or language.

You may not have realized the disorders when you watched each of the films, but SLPs work with individuals who face speech, language, and cognitive disorders everyday. For Better Hearing and Speech Month, we’re highlighting the roles and responsibilities of an SLP.

The Role of an SLP

An SLP plays an important role in an individual’s life. First and foremost, an SLP’s goal is to establish basic and achievable communication goals. He or she does this by evaluating, diagnosing, and treating the issue. Common disorders that may be evaluated and treated by an SLP include both speech and language disorders and some cognitive issues. Some include: Articulation disorders, cognitive impairments or delays, social language use or pragmatic disorders, expressive and receptive language impairments or delays, fluency and stuttering, voice disorders, auditory processing disorder, oral motor issues, and dysphagia.

Issues that Lingraphica SLPs have specific experience treating include:

  • Receptive Language Disorder: Difficulty comprehending communication. For example: The inability to follow directions.
  • Expressive Language Disorder: Trouble using language to express one’s thoughts and feelings. For example: Making a request, asking a question, labeling an object, or giving simple directions.
  • Pragmatic Language Disorder: Struggling to effectively and appropriately use language in social communication. For example, greeting another person or asking for help.
  • Cognitive and Memory Difficulties: Difficulty remembering the words to name familiar objects and people, ask for help, and following directions.
  • Non-verbal and limited verbal skills: People with severe aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria, expressive language, and voice disorders struggle with these skills. These individuals typically benefit from augmentative and alternative communication systems.
  • Aural Rehab: speech and language therapy designed specifically to treat people who are hard-of-hearing, and may be using a hearing aid or cochlear implant to learn to process and produce verbal language through their hearing technology.

How SLPs Help

SLPs can help their clients improve by working on basic reading and writing skills. This is achieved by using worksheets, online practice activities, and even everyday things like YouTube, Facebook, and online news sites. Depending on the age and diagnosis of the individual, SLPs will adjust and modify their plan of care. One great example of the uniqueness of speech therapy exercises is in The King’s Speech when the clinician, Lional, works with the future king on strengthening his tongue muscles and relaxing his jaw. You can watch them working together in this clip.


In this clip, you can see Lional working with the king during his speech to the United Kingdom. Here Lional is helping the king with his pacing.

Finally, it’s important to remember that most SLPs never give up. It’s a resilient professional group that will go to great lengths to make sure their clients are cared for and treated properly. SLPs are often their clients biggest encouragers, and a lifeline for caregivers struggling to communicate with their loved one.

You can find an SLP in your neighborhood, city or state by checking the American Speech and Hearing Association’s website or contacting your health insurance company. Of course, Lingraphica is always here to assist you with your speech therapy needs and goals.

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