Speech pathology refers to the study of problems encountered by people regarding their speech, mastery of language, voice development as well as the passage of solid food through the throat. The problems can be physical or cognitive and they require treatment through therapy by use of facilities located in schools or hospitals. A person with a problem of communication may be suffering from poor speech which comprises intensity and intonation or language which comprises syntax and phonology when it comes to receiving as well as sending information irrespective of whether it is through reading or writing. They also have problems with non-verbal communication like gestures.
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The program designed for an individual’s case depends on the degree of the problems and can be as simple as physical exercise and following of instructions and much practice but can also be complicated to require physical facilities such as audio-visual aids and much exposure of the individual so as to enhance communication. Treatment may also include signs like American Sign Language which is simple to understand. (Larry, 2004 pp34-38)
Role of speech pathology
The study is aimed at preventing, diagnoses the disorders and treatments as well as giving counseling services to the person until he becomes fluent in the language. Where the victim has a problem in swallowing, he is treated by a medical professional. Lack of attention and memory lapses as well as solving problems are improved along with sensory awareness. Alternative communication devices are established to help in the generation of speech and in improving the hearing ability. To ensure the facilities are accessed by all those who have these disorders, pathologists conduct community awareness programs, and these help in removing the barriers that emanate from the society irrespective of the societal background of the victim. (Boone, 2004 pp11-14)
Role of a professional pathologist
A pathologist offers his or her services to the general society in a wide range of services which include identifying and defining the problem in communication a person has after being diagnosed. He or she gives services through a variety of models and carries out research on communication disorders, problems of swallowing as well those of the upper aerodigestive malfunctions. They also provide education and supervision in mentoring future pathologists and perform the roles of case managers as well as coordinating the delivery of services. (Orland, 2006 PP45-47)
Pathologists also directly administer and coordinates clinical programs as well as those which are related to academics like giving in-service training to individual families and those individuals who are directly involved in giving care to the victims of the disorders and extend the same service to a wide range of other professionals in the same field. They also provide advice on practices related to a healthy lifestyle and thus prevent disorders in communication, impaired hearing as well as the problems of swallowing. (Logemann, 2003 pp25-27)
Education of speech pathology
For one to qualify as a speech pathologist, he or she must undergo a degree course that takes a period of four years which specializes only in communication disorders which allows them to serve in a variety of clinical areas. The course may vary from one university to the other and includes a study on theoretical components in linguistics and psychology as well as medical science along with the study of a variety of disorders in communication in both adults and children. Students also familiarize themselves with policies and procedures necessary in working involving different contexts of health and education.
In some universities, it is a requirement for a student to diagnose an unidentified client before they complete their course through a pilot study regarding therapy of speech. Before the completion of the course, the student is given a number of placements which are regularly assessed by their supervisors and their ability is rated. This is rated using a schedule that comprises a specified duration of time in hours with only a slight variation in the number of hours ranging from one course to another.
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When the student completes the course, he or she joins the profession as a practitioner who can offer the services independently but he or she must achieve a competency according to the professional body that oversees therapy of speech and this has to be within the first one and a half years of clinical practice.
The new practice is required to provide documented evidence upon supervision by his or her manager as a way of proving his or her competence in meeting the criteria necessary to be included in the register for full practitioners. Speech pathologists are required to be registered with the health professions council, a body that oversees the working of the health profession and which among its role includes disciplining a member who fails in meeting the set standards of safe delivery of services. (Millard, 2008 pp14-16)
Assessment of individuals with problems of speech
Tools used for assessment are different and depend on whether the person under investigation is a child, an adolescent, or an adult. This assessment involves understanding how language is used, the form in which it is used, and phonology. Specialized training is needed in assessing using examination tools and radiology procedures. People with brain problems; stroke and damage of the nerve may experience problems in listening and speaking which need to be taken care of immediately through medication. Some disorders are genetic depending on the family background where an individual belongs and this cause adverse effect to the speech, language used and overall development of the person.
During birth, complications may arise that affect the child once she is born due to neglect or using a birth attendant who is not qualified and this may ruin the health of the newborn and affect his brain development. Speech is also affected by the mode of feeding and mode of communication. Food administered to the child should help in body development so that there would be no problem in delay in making a speech. (Duffy, 2005 pp12-16)
Therapists of language and speech help babies with problems in feeding to encourage them and tell them of the importance of proper feeding that benefits their health and the ones with difficulties in swallowing are shown how to make swallowing easier without fear. Children who are not able to learn quickly are given teachers who will be patient and take time with them until they learn and understand at their own pace. Physical disabilities are taken care of by encouraging the affected person and telling him or her that disability is not an inability and he is capable of making a solid contribution to his wellbeing and society.
Language delay is observed and the right measure is taken to ensure improvement in language by making sure that a lot of practice is done and frequent interaction so that mastery of language can be enhanced and specific impairments in language are well understood and taken care of. Experienced people sounds help people with difficulties and inability to produce sounds through demonstrating to them physically how to produce different sounds. (Rhea, 2000 pp23-24)
There are people with problems that make them unable to talk due to injuries caused on the lips that may be dealt with easily through operation in case of injury of the lips. These need to seek medical attention immediately so that the problem is dealt with at its early stages to enhance faster healing. When the baby is young, parents need to observe their children carefully so that if there is any problem that can affect the baby in future speech, immediate care is given before the problem reaches stages where it is difficult to control. (Azrin, 2007 pp15-17)
In Britain, speech therapy is given free of charge by health services, and initial assessment is not charged any fee to people regardless of their age. There are many people who are taken care of every day. The needs of people are met by the use of specialized medical staff that is trained in consulting the patients about their problems. Patients are given different therapies at specified hours following strict guidelines to ensure high-quality services. (Kenneth, 2004 pp25-28)
Speech therapists are found within easy reach of people who need their attention. This includes health centers in the community where hospitals have been built to offer outpatient services, special schools dealing with people with special needs are attended, and colleges. There are therapists who visit different homes to offer services to people who are not able to travel and prisons where there are young offenders with problems. Immediate medical attention is necessary in order for problems to be diagnosed and treated. (Hegde, 2006 pp24-27)
Hegde M. (2006): Speech language pathology: Celeste Roseberry, pp. 24-27.
Duffy J. (2005): Speech disorders; Diagnosis and management: Elsevier Science, pp. 12-16.
Millard R. (2008): Evolution of cleft craft and surgery: Little brown, pp. 14-16.
Larry S. (2004): Fundamentals of Phonetics: Addison Wesley, pp. 34-38.
Boone D. (2004): The voice and voice therapy: Von Berg, pp. 11-14.
Logemann J. (2003): Evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders: Wiley and sons, pp. 25-27.
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Azrin N. (2007): Breakthrough to pathology: Simon and Schuster, pp. 15-17.
Kenneth G. (2004): Assessment in speech language Pathology: Thomson learning, pp. 25-28.
Rhea P. (2000): Assessment and intervention of language disorders from infancy: Health science, pp. 23-24.
Orland T. (2006): Speech language pathology: Language development, pp. 45-47.