Who is the Speech and Language Therapist?
Hi! My name is Valentina Giannini and I am a speech and language therapist. Maybe you already know me, for my videos and articles that aim to help you parents to support the language of your children at home.
Today I want to talk to you about my job as a speech and language therapist. Although almost everyone has heard of it at least once, there is still a lot of confusion about what speech and language therapists actually deal with.
I’ll explain it to you briefly in the article below, so you can evaluate whether the speech and language therapist is what you or your child need.
Since I started my studies at university, I have heard plenty of questions, both from people who wanted to congratulate me, and from people who wanted to know more about the profession I had chosen.
The best are:
“So are you like a support teacher?”
“But you only help children to talk, right?”
“But sometimes words don’t come to me too, do I need a speech and language therapist?”
This made me realize that there was really a lot of confusion about what speech and language therapy is and what the SLT does.
It’s actually very simple: the speech and language therapist (or pathologist) is the healthcare professional who deals with the prevention, assessment and treatment of communication and swallowing difficulties.
The speech therapist is the professional figure who is specialized in:
- Preventing language difficulties, through training courses for family members, screening courses and early interventions.
- Diagnosing language difficulties through assessments.
- Rehabilitating language difficulties through specific exercises for the patient and the difficulty assessed.
- Diagnosing and rehabilitating swallowing difficulties.
Let’s see together what exactly we SLP specialize in treating:
# 1 Speech Disorders in the absence of other pathologies
This large group of difficulties contains different ones, from difficulty with articulation (speech difficulties) to specific language disorders (difficulties in vocabulary or grammar).
# 2 Speech Disorders in the presence of other pathologies
The speech and language therapist deals with communication disorders also in the diagnosis of Autism, Down Syndrome, genetic syndromes, Infantile Cerebral Palsy and deafness. In this case, the SLT works in a team with other health professionals who aim to support all areas of the child’s development.
# 3 Fluency disorders
These disorders, such as stuttering or stammering, are characterized by the patient’s difficulty in speaking fluently. The SLT specializes in treating these disorders, also in children.
# 4 Childhood voice and swallowing disorders
The SLT deals with the rehabilitation of both voice and swallowing in children, both in post-operative cases and in cases of swallowing difficulties due to lingual thrust – which can lead to dental problems (in this case, the speech therapist collaborates with the orthodontist)
# 5 Learning disorders
Perhaps the area in which the SLT is most famous. In fact, we take care of evaluating and rehabilitating the difficulties of reading, writing and calculating. Again, the speech and language therapist works in a multidisciplinary team.
Does the SLT only rehabilitate children? No!
Not only children may have difficulty with their communication and speech, voice or swallowing, but adults as well.
What does the speech therapist do for the adult population?
# 1 Voice disorders
Voice disorders (dysphonia) are characterized by the alteration of the quality, intensity and height of the voice. They can occur due to incorrect use of the voice, or as a result of diseases such as MS, ALS or Parkinson’s. The SLT has the task of evaluating and rehabilitating these disorders.
# 2 Fluency disorders
These disorders, such as stuttering, are characterized by the patient’s difficulty in speaking fluently. The speech therapist specializes in treating these disorders, also for adults.
# 3 Speech, Language and Swallowing disorders following a head injury
Following a head injury, the SLT is part of the team for the rehabilitation of communication and swallowing functions that may have been compromised
# 4 Dysphagia
The speech therapist deals with the rehabilitation of dysphagia, or swallowing disorders, which can be post-operative or due to other pathologies, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS.
# 5 Aphasia
Aphasias are communication and language disorders that can be caused by vascular disease, stroke, or other degenerative diseases, and of which the speech and language therapist specializes in rehabilitation.
What do I specialize in?
Not all speech and language therapists deal with all of these things! Usually, we specialize based on our interests and circumstances.
I specialize in the assessment and rehabilitation of language in children and adults, remotely.
I’ve also created a screening quiz for parents to find out if their children are on par with their peers when it comes to language development. Take a look at it by clicking here.
Furthermore, if you already know me, you know that I am a bilingual speech therapist (almost trilingual!) And therefore one of the areas in which I specialize is the assessment and treatment of language disorders in bilingual and multilingual populations.
Most importantly, I specialize in the prevention and early treatment of language disorders in children through parent training.
My therapies are accessible online on Zoom.
Do you want more information or do you have any questions?
Then don’t hesitate to contact me!