Role of Speech Therapists

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A speech-language pathologist, or speech therapist, diagnoses and treats speech and swallowing disorders. Schools are a primary work location, but some also work in private practice. A master's degree and supervised clinical experience are standards if you want to get into this profession. Most states also require licensing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Primary Duties

  • The first step in speech therapy care is diagnosis of a patient's condition. Children and adults present communication difficulties stemming from various causes. Developmental delays, strokes, hearing problems, brain trauma and a cleft palate are common problems. Diagnosing the condition is vital to developing the right treatment plan. Speech therapy treatments include sound-making practice, mouth and throat strengthening exercises and communication disorder counseling. In extreme cases where normal speech is not possible, the therapist counsels on sign language, writing and reading comprehension.

Work Environment

  • As of May 2012, 41 percent of speech therapists worked in schools, according to the BLS. In these roles, they diagnose and treat children. Therapists also participate in the development and review of individual education plans for kids dealing with communication and behavioral disorders. Another 17 percent work in private practice or in occupational therapy clinics. Hospitals employ 13 percent of speech therapists, and nursing homes, where some patients have experienced strokes, employ 5 percent.

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