- What is a speech language pathologist?
- What is an audiologist?
- What are some signs of a speech, language, swallowing or hearing disorder in children?
- 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?
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.
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.
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
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.
For more information, visit Communication for a Lifetime.