Speech therapy, commonly referred to as speech-language pathology (SLP), is an area of study that focuses on addressing speech disorders. These disorders can make an individual fail to have proper verbal communication. Speech impediments can be very difficult, making people very self-conscious about what they say. Speech-language pathologists ( or speech therapists) help to remedy this issue. However, speech therapy is more than just improving an individual’s articulation of words. It also helps a person to express their thoughts clearly and improve their swallowing if they have such issues. Needless to say, those in need of speech therapy can find difficulty in many social interactions. That’s why effective treatments like the Chicago speech therapy programs help to address all such issues at a deeper level.

An innovative, multidisciplinary allied health service called speech pathology western sydney and therapy for kids with behavioural, learning, and developmental challenges in one accessible location.

What Specific Age Group Benefits From Speech Therapy?

Most people assume that speech and language difficulties are only during childhood. However, many adults often struggle with issues that can be addressed by speech therapy. While many patients of speech therapy are children, any group can benefit from this intervention. Whether a teenager or someone late into their sixties, nearly everyone can reap the benefits of speech-language therapy. However, the minimum age at which results can be effective in 6 months.

Of course, being able to identify speech impediments and other such issues at a very young age is crucial. It means a child can get into a speech therapy program early on and deal with their speech issues promptly. That’s why many speech therapists choose to work within the school system. The adolescent years are crucial for a child’s mental and psychosocial development. Proper communication is a key part of that development. If a child is unable to articulate their thoughts well, they’ll feel as if they’re lagging behind their peers. Speech therapy helps to address this issue.

A speech therapist can be found in a wide variety of settings. They can be employed by youth clubs or sports programs, or they could set up their private practice to cater to their clients.

Becoming a Speech Therapist

Depending on where you live, the process of becoming a speech therapist may vary slightly. However, it usually follows a pattern like this;

  1. Get an Undergraduate Degree

While rare, there are people from other professions like banking that have gone on to become successful speech therapists. However, the usual route is to get a bachelor’s degree from a reputable institution. A degree in communications sciences and disorders (CSD) or language development is the archetypal certification for becoming a speech-language pathologist. However, other closely-related programs can also prepare you well for this profession. These include a major in psychology, education, linguistics, or the English language. On average, most of these programs take between three to four years of college study.

2) Get an SLP Master’s Degree

To practice as a speech-language therapist, most jurisdictions will require you to get a master’s degree. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is one of the bodies that certify master’s programs in SLP. Getting an ASHA-certified SLP master’s degree is a requirement in most states because it gives you real-life preparation. Unlike the degree program, whose clinical exposure opportunities may be limited, enrolling in the SLP master’s degree program provides plenty of opportunities for practical learning and gaining invaluable experience. Practical experience comes from being paired with experienced SLP practitioners. You get to work with individuals experiencing speech impediments, thereby giving you valuable experience for your future practice. Of course, these days, many individuals choose to pursue their SLP master’s degree online, which may limit their practical experience.

In some cases, individuals may be required to take some SLP leveling courses like audiology and aural rehabilitation, among others, before they can be accepted into an SLP master’s degree program.

3) Get Clinical Practice

While the SLP master’s degree program gives a decent amount of experience, it may not simulate the real-life setting of a school or a speech therapy practice. As such, some jurisdictions may require you to undergo a clinical fellowship program despite your SLP master’s degree. This is usually a supervised, full-time endeavor where you’ll get assessed periodically. There is a minimum number of hours required for you to spend in this practice program. For instance, you may be required to do a minimum of 400 hours of supervised practice.

4) Get Licensed

Once you’ve got your undergraduate degree, an SLP master’s degree, and every other certification in between, you can then sit for the licensing exam to become a certified speech therapist. The ASHA usually issues the license, although some jurisdictions may require additional licensure.

At the end of the day, these qualifications all help to give you the essential skills for helping people overcome their speech impediments.