About SLP Therapy
SLP stands for Speech-Language Pathology and is a field of expertise practiced by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), also known as a speech and language therapist.
SLPs evaluate, diagnose and treat speech, language, cognitive communication, social communication, and swallowing disorders. SLPs often work in a team with pediatricians and psychologists in the diagnosis and treatment of those who are autistic.
There may be several reasons someone is referred to a Speech and Language Pathologist, as an SLP can help address challenges related to speech, language, and hearing. Therapy may help those who are late talkers, have apraxia, stutter, have aphasia, as well as those who have swallowing issues.
Common Types of SLP Programs
Fluency: stuttering, and cluttering
Language: ability, and comprehension of spoken and written language
Swallowing disorders: stroke and congenital disorders
Cognition: attention, memory, ability to solve problems
Auditory habilitation & auditory rehabilitation: recovery techniques associated with hearing loss and language disorders
Voice: characteristics of vocal tone
- Other services: some therapists will specialize in other services including professional voice development, accent or dialect modification, transgender voice, business communication modification, and voice hygiene
Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to learn more!
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF SLP THERAPY?
Speech-language pathology can be traced back to 18th century England, with its roots in elocution, or “speech perfection”. An emphasis on elocution continued in the United States until Samuel Potter, MD published a book that described several types of speech and language disorders. The production of speech continued to be the focus of this field when in 1926 the Academy of Speech Correction was established.
Many soldiers who returned from WWII may have suffered from brain injury, which resulted in a significant increase in the diagnosis of aphasia.
Through the 1940s and 1950s, there were many advances in this field, including brain studies, technological advances, and the development of standardized testing procedures that gave rise to more useful receptive and expressive language assessment and treatment techniques. It was during this time that the field of speech pathology became speech-language pathology.
From the 1960s through the 1980s, advances in linguistic studies further enhanced the speech-language pathologist’s understanding and ability to treat a variety of language delays and disorders in persons of any age.
In the 21st century, speech-language pathologists have begun to research and treat the pragmatic use of language along with the other areas of communication disorders, which have been addressed as the profession continues to develop in the United States.
WHAT DOES AN SLP TYPICALLY DO FOR THERAPY?
They help people learn how to communicate.
After the client is assessed, the SLP will create a plan of therapy options and exercises to help the patient learn.
As the client learns, the SLP documents and keeps track of all progress; re-evaluate; and adjusts treatment plans, as needed. Language tests conducted throughout treatment indicate a client’s improvement, as well as educate family members on what treatments are working, and how best to work with loved ones at home.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN SLP THERAPIST
Finding any therapist that works well with you or your loved one may be a challenge.
However, an SLP therapist should be professional at all times, and they should possess the following qualities:
- They need to be child-friendly
- Does the therapist interact with your child?
- Do they try to find out what interests them?
- Does your child seem to be having fun?
- Willingness to interact with the therapist?
- Experienced and Knowledgeable
- Be willing to answer the following questions
- How much of your caseload is made up of children like mine?
- Can I talk to some other parents who you have worked with?
- What treatments do you recommend and why? What is the evidence that supports these recommendations? Where can I learn more about this kind of treatment?
- Possibly have a trial period? For example: 4 weeks of diagnostic work.
- Be willing to answer the following questions
- Considers the Parent to be an Intervention Partner
- They take the time to discover what is important to the parent
- Gives the parent time to talk about what is important to them
- Responds to what the parent says to show they heard the parent
- They need to be child-friendly
TYPES OF SLP CERTIFICATIONS
The subject of speech pathology can be very diverse, and each certification has a specific focus of study. We will be updating our selections to include these specific certifications as listings are claimed by providers. All providers in our database currently are designated either SLP or SLPA.
- CCC-SLP Certification of clinical competence in speech-language pathology
One of the most important speech and language certifications is the CCC-SLP licensure offered through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), as this initial certification is oftentimes a requirement for becoming licensed and registered as a practicing SLP in your state. The requirements for this certification include obtaining your master’s degree in speech-language pathology, completing your post-graduate fellowship, and submitting the appropriate documentation for fulfilling your requirements. Additionally, you may be required to complete a minimum of 30 continuing education hours every three to five years to renew your CCC-SLP certification.
- BCS Board-certified specialist certification
The board-certified specialist (BCS) certification is the initial licensure for speech pathologists who choose to specialize in one of four specific fields of speech pathology: child language disorders, fluency disorders, swallowing disorders and further certification for SLPs who choose to become audiologists. After completing an accredited graduate program and passing the practical exam for speech-language pathology, you can obtain your BCS certification by specializing in one of these four fields with a clinical specialty certification (CSC).
- BCS-CL Child language and language disorders certification
The board-certified specialist in child language disorder (BCS-CL) certification allows SLPs to work with children who suffer from language development issues or disorders. This certification is one of four specialty licenses offered through the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders, and the requirements include possessing your initial CCC-SLP certification and having experience working with child language disorders before applying for licensure. Renewal may follow the same requirements as the CCC-SLP certification due to the standards set by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).
- BCS-F Board-certified specialist in fluency and fluency disorders certifications.
The American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders offers the board-certified specialist in fluency certification (BCS-F) for SLPs who choose to specialize in the field. Typically, a BCS-F certification enables an SLP to work with adults and children who suffer from speech disorders related to fluency, including stuttering, lisps, and other speech fluency disorders.
To qualify for the BCS-F certification, you must possess your initial CCC-SLP licensure as well as fulfilling your state’s educational and clinical fellowship requirements. Renewal for the BCS-F certification will adhere to the same requirements as those for the CCC-SLP certification, and you may be required to complete continuing education as part of the requirements for license renewal.
- BCS-S Board-certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders certification
The swallowing and swallowing disorders certification (BCS-S) allows a board-certified specialist SLP to work with patients who suffer from swallowing disorders. Often, these professionals may work in pediatrics as well as with adult patients who have swallowing disorders related to injury, trauma, and other medical factors.
- LSVT Lee Silverman voice treatment certification
The Lee Silverman voice treatment (LSVT) certification is available for SLPs who choose to specialize in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Typically, SLPs who are LSVT-certified work with patients to improve vocal expression, articulation, swallowing, neural and muscular functioning. Even though the LSVT certification is offered to individuals who work primarily with Parkinson’s patients, the approach and principles of the LSVT program can also be applied to SLPs who work with patients that have speech impairments due to other neurological issues such as strokes, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.
The requirements for this certification include completing a graduate degree in speech pathology and obtaining your CCC-SLP certification. You may also be able to apply for your LSVT certification while you are still completing your clinical fellowship.
- PROMPT Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets certification
The prompts for restructuring oral muscular phonetic targets certification (PROMPT) offers licensure to SLPs who use this approach in their therapy practices. Typically, SLPs who are PROMPT certified work with patients to develop and improve their motor skills, speech and communication production through the integration of words and phrases focusing on enunciation, pronunciation, and articulation. You may be required to practice in the field for a minimum of five years as well as attend workshops, complete practicums and submit a required project to qualify for the PROMPT certification.
THE CHALLENGES WITH SLP THERAPY
As with many industries, Speech-language therapy has its own set of challenges.
There are SLPs who are employed by government agencies including public schools and early intervention services. There are those that also have, or are a part of, a private practice. Knowing where your SLP is employed will help you understand what they are working with and how to best serve your child’s needs.
The following are some common challenges that parents should be aware of as SLPs work with their child. Being aware of these challenges will help you partner with a qualified SLP as you both help your child overcome their challenges.
- High Caseloads
For those SLPs that are employed by public schools, they may have very high caseloads, as many as 80 to 100 students. This may limit their ability to devote the necessary hours on-site to those families that need them. Work with your child’s SLP to see how you can support their efforts with your child to achieve the best possible results.
- Lack of Materials
Due to the diverse caseload that SLPs in public schools have, most SLPs end up spending their own money to buy materials, or take the time to make their own, so that their student is adequately served. If you’re able to afford to help in obtaining the materials for your child, it will help expedite therapy for your child’s needs, as well as help other families who also are working with your child’s therapist.
- Unqualified (non-SLP) people providing speech services
Many federal and state agencies may not have the funding to provide a qualified SLP. This means that the person assigned at the school may not be an SLP. It is recommended that you make sure that the person assigned to your child’s case is qualified, otherwise you may have to have an SLP play ‘catch up’. There are many SLPs that spend their personal time trying to make changes at state and federal levels to hopefully stop this practice so that children obtain appropriate services from the start.
This is a common issue, as SLPs may be ignored by their administrators and have the inability to be able to use professional judgment in the workplace, as well as being ruled by by laws and guidelines created by people who have NO idea about the work involved. SLPs work together with their state speech-pathology associations, as well as unions to get these issues resolved so that children can get the services they need.
Parents, you have the most influence to cut through the bureaucracy. Listen to your SLP, and ask what you can do to help. IDEA is a very powerful tool.
- Paperwork & Meetings
Often SLP’s have to take their work home in order to meet the demand of helping their children, as well as being a part of meetings.
When you find an SLP that works well with your child, be flexible as to their availability when scheduling appointments.
- Plan and Implement Therapy for Diverse Groups
SLPs often have to address multiple cases within a group. If your child is a part of this group, they are one of several cases. Patience may be needed as they adapt and navigate to help as many children as possible.
- Misunderstandings about the role of an SLP
Quite often other professionals don’t understand specifically what an SLP does and are regularly educating others on what their role is. This not only includes other teachers and therapists but also administrators and those who lack the willingness to fully grasp the role of the SLP. Feel free to ask the SLP at any time about their plan for your child, and what you can do to support that effort.
- Misperceptions between public vs private
All SLPs receive training in college as well as education, yet when they are employed in the public sector they often find themselves having to defend their professional judgment simply because they work for the public sector.
It is also a common misconception that private practice SLPs have better training than those who work in public schools or other public entities. The reality is that there are two models, the educational model, and the medical model, and each set comes with its own pros and cons and each is bound by a different set of qualification guidelines and therapy models.
THE BENEFITS OF SLP THERAPY
The goal of speech therapy is to improve an individual’s ability to communicate more effectively.
- Improvement in the ability to understand and express thoughts, ideas and feelings
- Intelligible speech so your child is understood by others
- Increased ability to problem-solve in an independent environment
- Improved swallowing function and safety
- Achievement of school readiness skills
- Development of pre-literacy skills
- Improved vocal quality
- Fluent speech
- Development of practical social skills
- Better quality of life
- Greater self-esteem
- Increased independence
FINANCING SLP THERAPY
There are many resources available that may cover the cost of speech therapy.
We encourage you to look at your own health care plan. You should look for the following:
- Investigate what terms are covered:
- Speech-Language Pathology
- Speech Therapy
- Rehabilitation Services
- Medically necessary services
- Ask what are the limitations and/or exclusions of coverage
- Seek coverage of both evaluation and treatment (or therapy) services.
Always ask for clarification, in writing, from your health plan.
There may also be other Federal and/or State resources or local agencies and programs that could be available to help finance SLP services.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW AS A PARENT REGARDING SLP THERAPY?
It is often only once or maybe twice a week that a speech pathologist is seen. Therefore, a parent should expect to get best results when they are actively involved in the process.
The SLP may work closely with the Parent in order to ensure that their child can have ongoing intervention while the SLP is not in a one-on-one session.
Each SLP may operate differently, but the common goal is to help a parent’s child communicate more effectively. So, ask questions until you understand and work closely with an SLP you trust to help your child together as a team.
Find a Provider Today!
Early intervention is always the best course. Don’t wait. Please find a provider today!