Allied Health Professions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a speech language pathologist (SLP)?
What is an audiologist?
What are some signs of a speech, language, swallowing or hearing disorder in children?
What are some difficulties adults may have with speech and language?
What should I do if I think that my child or an adult in my family may have a speech, language, swallowing, or hearing problem?

Q. What is a speech language pathologist (SLP)?
A. SLPs work with the full range of human communication and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages. SLPs:

  • Evaluate and diagnose speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders.
  • Treat speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders.
  • Provide training and education to family/caregivers and other professionals.
  • Work collaboratively with professionals from many other disciplines.

Q. What is an audiologist?
A. Hearing and balance disorders can be assessed, treated, and rehabilitated by an audiologist. Audiologists are health care professionals who provide patient-centered care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of hearing, balance, and other auditory disorders for people of all ages.

Q. What are some signs of a speech, language, swallowing or hearing disorder in children?
A. A language disorder may be spoken and/or written (reading and writing). It may also be receptive (understanding) and/or expressive (talking, reading, writing, or signing).

Signs of a Language Disorder:

  • Doesn't smile or interact with others (birth–3 months)
  • Doesn't babble (4–7 months)
  • Makes few sounds (7–12 months)
  • Does not use gestures (e.g., waving, pointing) (7–12 months)
  • Doesn't understand what others say (7 months–2 years)
  • Says only a few words (12–18 months)
  • Doesn't put words together to make sentences (1½–2 years)
  • Says fewer than 50 words (2 years)
  • Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2–3 years)
  • Has problems with early reading and writing skills—for example, may not show an interest in books or drawing (2½–3 years)

Signs of a Speech Sound Disorder:

  • Says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words most of the time (1–2 years)
  • Says k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words most of the time (2–3 years)
  • Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2–3 years)

Signs of Stuttering (Disfluency):

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (2½–3 years)
  • Repeats first sounds of words—"b-b-b-ball" for "ball" (2½–3 years)
  • Pauses a lot while talking (2½–3 years)
  • Stretches sounds out—"f-f-f-f-farm" for "farm" (2½–3 years)

Signs of a Voice Disorder:

  • Uses a hoarse or breathy voice
  • Uses a nasal-sounding voice

Signs of a Hearing Loss:

  • Shows lack of attention to sounds (birth–1 year)
  • Doesn't respond when you call his/her name (7 months–1 year)
  • Doesn't follow simple directions (1–2 years)
  • Shows delays in speech and language development (birth–3 years)

Signs of Possible Swallowing or Feeding Disorders:

  • Only consumes a few different foods or consistencies
  • Coughs or chokes when eating or drinking
  • Weight loss or failure to gain weight as expected
  • Takes much longer than expected to finish eating
  • Leaves food in mouth without swallowing

Q. What are some difficulties adults may have with speech and language?
A. Adults may experience speech and language difficulties for a variety of reasons. Information about specific types of speech and language differences and disorders, as well as conditions that cause them is included below:

Speech and Swallowing Disorders:

  • Apraxia motor speech disorder caused by difficulty coordinating muscle movements
  • Dysarthria motor speech disorder caused by muscle weakness
  • Stuttering repetitions of words or parts of words, as well as prolongations of speech sounds affecting the fluency of speech
  • Voice hoarse, harsh, breathy quality; vocal fatigue; limited pitch range or volume
  • Swallowing – difficulty chewing or swallowing certain foods; coughing or choking

Language Disorders:

  • Aphasia – language difficulties related to neurological damage

Hearing Loss:

  • Age-related hearing loss may progress slowly over time. It usually occurs in both ears and may affect the person’s ability to understand speech and participate in everyday conversations. 

Q. What should I do if I think that my child or an adult in my family may have a speech, language, swallowing, or hearing problem?
A. If a speech, language or swallowing problem is suspected, you can contact an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist for a complete diagnostic speech and language evaluation. All treatment or rehabilitation options will be discussed after the problem has been identified.
If a hearing problem is suspected, you can contact an ASHA certified or state licensed audiologist for a full diagnostic hearing evaluation. The audiologist will either refer the child or adult for medical treatment (cerumen removal, ear infections) or provide non-medical treatment for hearing loss, such as amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implants). Aural rehabilitation options will also be discussed if needed.

Communication for a Lifetime. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/