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What is a speech-language pathologist?

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

What is a speech-language pathologist?

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), “speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults” (

What does that mean?

Speech-language pathologists, also known as “SLPs” or “speech therapists” help people of all ages who have difficulty communicating. This includes those who were born with a speech or language disorder as well as those who acquired a disorder later in life. Not only do SLPs work on all things related to communication, but they also help people who have difficulty with feeding and swallowing (from babies refusing to eat certain foods to adults recovering from a stroke who need thickened liquids).

What is a communication disorder?

Someone can be diagnosed with a communication disorder or “impairment.” To put it generally, if it is related to…

1. LANGUAGE (understanding others or expressing yourself);

2. SPEECH (the actual process of putting sounds together to produce words so you can communicate a message); or

3. EATING (from food entering the mouth to the time it enters the stomach)

…it is within the scope of practice for an SLP.

Does an SLP help people with autism?

Absolutely! SLPs can help those on the autism spectrum with social language and can even teach them how to use an alternative way of communicating if they cannot talk (speech).

I am from another country. What if I want to improve my English so I don’t have to keep repeating myself?

Accent modification, also known as “accent reduction” is related to both speech and language, which are two specialties of an SLP. An accent is not a communication disorder, but rather a difference. However, because SLPs are experts in communication, they are extremely qualified to help those with an accent who want communicate more clearly and be better understood.

Is a speech therapist the same as a speech-language pathologist?

The short answer is “yes.” This is just to say that the terms are often used interchangeably. However, a person typically has to be licensed by their state to be allowed to use the title “speech-language pathologist” and be certified by ASHA to use the title CCC-SLP, which stands for “Certificate of Clinical Competence-Speech-Language Pathology.” The term “speech therapist” is a term more commonly used by those outside of the profession (and is much easier to pronounce). If you have a question about a person’s credentials, you can always ask if they are ASHA-certified.

Where can I learn more about how a speech-language pathologist can help me?

Online Speech Services can help! Visit, call, or send us a message to schedule your free consultation.


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