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What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Perhaps a teacher told you that your child should talk to the school speech-language pathologist for a screening.  Perhaps you walked by my office at school and said, "Speech, do they give speeches in there?"  Believe me, I understand the misconceptions that people have about what I do.  To give you a better understanding here is a short blurb of the responsibilities of speech-language pathologists.   

Fact Sheet for Speech-Language Pathology

Nature of the Work

Working with the full range of human communication and its disorders, speech-language pathologists:

  • Evaluate and diagnose speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders.
  • Treat speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.

In addition, speech-language pathologists may:

  • Prepare future professionals in college and universities.
  • Manage agencies, clinics, organizations, or private practices.
  • Engage in research to enhance knowledge about human communication processes.
  • Supervise and direct public school or clinical programs.
  • Develop new methods and equipment to evaluate problems.
  • Establish more effective treatments.
  • Investigate behavorial patterns associated with communication disorders.

Speech-language pathologists often work as part of a team, which may include teachers, physicians, audiologists, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation counselors and others. Corporate speech-language pathologists also work with employees to improve communication with their customers.

In Livonia Public Schools, my responsibilities include but aren't limited to:
  1. Support student and teachers by addressing speech and language goals that will help a child progress in the general education curriculum.
  2. Provide speech and language services as indicated on each student’s IEP.
  3. Collect, record, and report data relative to student performance on individual goals and objectives.
  4. Conduct required formal and informal evaluations to determine eligibility and to measure student progress.
  5. Act as case manager for special education students that receive speech only, by scheduling IEP’s, facilitating meetings, and ensuring IEP implementation.
  6. Actively participate on building student assistance teams.
  7. Utilize a variety of research-based intervention strategies, continually assessing student response to intervention and make modifications as needed to ensure all children are successful.
  8. Provide leadership and consultative services to the district’s professional staff on topics concerning speech and language development.
  9. Work collaboratively with district staff, parents and community agencies involved with students and families, including giving suggestions that will aid the student in daily school activities.
  10. Prepare written reports that include information needed to determine eligibility and current level of speech and language development.
  11. Other duties as assigned by the Principal or Administrator of Student Services.

Work Sites

The practice and work of speech-language pathologists may take place in various settings:

  • Public and private schools
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Short-term and long-term nursing care facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private practice offices
  • State and local health departments
  • State and federal government agencies
  • Home health agencies (home care)
  • Adult day care centers
  • Centers for persons with developmental disabilities
  • Research laboratories