The Many Roles of a Speech Language Pathologist

role of speech language pathologist

The formal title of “speech language pathologist” or “SLP” often gets shortened to “speech therapist,” and this can cause some confusion, because the role of an SLP and the variety of speech, language, and literacy issues that an SLP can help with are incredibly varied.  

From children who are having trouble chewing and swallowing their food to stroke victims who need to relearn how to speak altogether, a qualified SLP can take a on a wide variety of roles in a person’s life. Here are some of the main areas that speech language pathologists can help with: 


A variety of disorders can affect how well a person understands what they are reading or what is being said to them. Some disorders can also make it difficult to form thoughts into words. This can be the result of damage to the brain – whether through illness or injury – or a developmental issue. An SLP can work with both children and adults who have language difficulties, giving them strategies to better express themselves and find the words they’re searching for. 


Speech refers to the sounds that we make to express language. There are a wide variety of speech disorders that can result from over or underdeveloped muscles, damage to the mouth or throat, or other developmental difficulties. A lisp is a common speech impediment that an SLP can help with through exercises and practice. 


Problems with reading and writing can frequently accompany speech or language disorders. Often literacy issues can be addressed by an SLP, helping children and adults feel more confident and preparing them for greater future success. 


When children in particular have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, that can lead to frustration, acting out, and inappropriate social behavior. SLPs can help children who have difficulty in social situations learn how to take turns, follow directions, and express themselves appropriately in a variety of social situations. 


The tone and pitch of our voice can be hindered by injuries and illness. Regaining the ability to speak in a normal voice – or finding that ability for the first time – is something an SLP can help with. 


Fluency refers to how well a person’s speech flows. Someone with a stutter or other speech impediment can work with an SLP to improve fluency with practice over time. 

Feeding and Swallowing 

While nothing to do with speech or language; chewing, sipping, and swallowing have everything to do with the same muscles used in speech. SLPs can be excellent resources in addressing feeding and swallowing disorders such as dysphagia. 

To learn more or to schedule a consultation with an experienced speech language pathologist, call our office today.