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How Are SLPs Changing the World?

Communication is an essential part of life. It helps us understand the world around us, form bonds with others, share and receive valuable information, and express our emotions. For human beings, speech and language are two of the primary communication vehicles used to accomplish these goals.

When speech and language are adversely affected by genetics, developmental delays, trauma, or other factors, those affected can feel isolated, frustrated, and disconnected from the world around them. In many cases, qualified support is needed. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) step in to provide treatment, compassion, and care. They are qualified to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a variety of speech, language, and swallowing disorders that affect one’s ability to communicate.

Speech-language pathologists help patients with a wide variety of diagnoses, including:

  • Apraxia of Speech (AoS), which occurs when neural pathways in the brain do not properly connect to the muscles that allow a person to speak. This can occur as a result of brain damage, but children without brain damage can also be born with AoS.
  • Speech delays (Alalia), which is a term that refers to a child who does not attempt to speak or communicate in ways considered typical for their stage of development. There are many reasons for this, and SLPs can help identify participating factors to treat them effectively.
  • Spasmodic Dysphonia, in which the vocal cords spasm and affect someone’s voice. This is typically a chronic condition that occurs in adulthood.
  • Dysarthria, which is abnormal, slurred, or labored speech caused by nerve and muscle damage. This can occur as a result of MS, cerebral palsy, stroke, and tumors, among other causes.
  • Aphasia, which is a language disorder that causes someone to have difficulties understanding speech, speaking in a way that others can understand, or both. This can be caused by stroke or traumatic brain injury.
  • Selective mutism, which occurs when someone (often a child) is able to speak but prefers not to, either in all settings or in a particular setting.
  • Lisping and stuttering disorders, which are functional speech disorders that can often be minimized or eliminated through speech therapy, especially when early intervention is applied.

These disorders are just a small fraction of what a speech-language pathologists (SLP) are qualified to treat. SLPs help adults and children alike improve their communication skills and, in turn, their connection to the world around them. This career path is immensely rewarding, no matter which population or specialization you choose to work with. If you’re considering a career in speech-language pathology, know that you can make a lasting impact in countless lives through your work, offering empathy and support along the way.

How SLPs Help Children

Communication disorders in children and adolescents are common, and early intervention (before age 5), when possible, is an essential tool in treating many of these disorders effectively. SLPs who work with this population are known as pediatric speech-language pathologists.

According to ASHA, speech-language pathologists “play a critical and direct role in the development of literacy for children and adolescents with communication disorders, including those with severe or multiple disabilities.”

Pediatric speech-language pathologists are skilled practitioners who work to diagnose and treat children while also calming their nerves and making the therapeutic process fun and approachable. SLPs can help children with many communication skills, including:

  • Articulation, which is the physical ability to move the muscles of the tongue, lips, and mouth to make the correct sounds.
  • Expressive language, which is the ability to communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings, and information.
  • Receptive language, which is the ability to understand ideas, thoughts, feelings, and information when communicated.
  • Reading and writing, which often go hand in hand with communication disorders.
  • Voice disorders, which include hoarseness or abnormal resonance.

SLPs who work with children treat more than just speech disorders, too! Many pediatric SLPs offer support to kids who struggle with feeding or swallowing or aren’t able to eat age-appropriate foods.

As a pediatric SLP, you can have a positive impact on children and their families for a lifetime! By improving their communication, speech, language, and motor skills, you enable them to feel confident in their own bodies and in their own lives as they grow.

How SLPs Help Adults

Speech-language pathology is not just for children. Many speech, language, and communication disorders come about as a result of injury or trauma, and others simply don’t make themselves known until adulthood. Adult speech therapy is a rapidly expanding field, offering essential support to those who may not be able to communicate today as easily as they once could.

In some cases, adults attend speech therapy for a short amount of time as they recover from a mild brain injury or seek to improve a speech impairment. In other cases, adults attend speech therapy for the rest of their lives to maintain their current communication level after a degenerative diagnosis. The reasons for speech therapy are as unique as each patient, and SLPs are dedicated to serving and supporting everyone they treat.

How SLPs Affect Their Communities

While the day-to-day life of a speech-language pathologist may focus on small wins and minute details, they are making the communities around them better in big ways. When patients are able to gain or regain the ability to communicate effectively, they can be fully integrated into their communities and even contribute to them.

Speech therapy can not only improve a person’s ability to understand language and speak it in return, but it can also decrease anxiety, boost confidence, and foster a sense of belonging. It can even reduce physical symptoms in patients with swallowing and breathing difficulties and improve literacy in patients with certain diagnoses. It’s no secret that SLPs make a big difference through their commitment to steady growth and small successes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, speech-language pathology careers are expected to grow 19% by 2032, which is much faster than the national average. This rapid growth projection shows just how valuable these jobs are to communities across the country. It also should encourage aspiring speech-language pathologists that many rewarding careers await on the other side of their education.

Begin Your SLP Career at Ithaca College

Becoming an SLP is a career you can take pride in, knowing you are journeying into a respected profession where you can truly make a difference in the lives of your patients. Whether you are just beginning your time in the workforce or are pivoting from education or nursing to a second rewarding career, a master’s degree can help you excel as an SLP.

Earn your Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) online at Ithaca College. This part-time online MS-SLP program includes with 100% online coursework, no on-campus residency requirement, and is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CAA). With more than 100 years of experience in SLP education, Ithaca College is a trusted choice when you are ready to earn your MS-SLP.

During your time as an Ithaca student, you’ll combine top-quality academic instruction and broad clinical experience to thrive in your career. Our online programming allows you to pursue your dream of becoming an SLP without sacrificing your career or neglecting other obligations.

A promising career outlook is waiting for you. Start your journey into the SLP profession with the Ithaca College online MS-SLP program today.

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