Speech Pathology (an entirely non D post)

Here’s a typical conversation when someone asks me about my course:

“What are you studying?”

“Speech Pathology”

“… pathology? Like, blood?”

“Let’s just go with speech therapy”


Speech pathology is a lot more than most people think. It’s so much more than stutters and lisps, though they’re definitely a part of it if that’s what you want to do! I like speech path because it’s such a versatile profession. You can work with a variety of age groups, and with a variety of disorders/delays.

Before anyone asks, I have no idea what I want to do and change my mind every time I learn something cool. Swallowing, strokes and aphasia (geriatrics) was my original interest but we’ll see, I have lots to choose from and a lot more to learn.

Here’s some things speechies do that you probably didn’t consider (little disclaimer: I’m still learning lots and lots of things and am not a source of medical advice. Some things I know about a little more because of personal experiences separate from study. Therefore none of this is medical advice and is just my summary of cool things)

- “Why is there a speech pathologist here? My speech is fine!” Swallowing. Yep, they should rename the profession to include this because it’s a huge area. Swallowing difficulties can occur across a number of populations but frequently happen in older people. Speechies come in and determine if there is an occurrence/risk of aspiration (food/liquid going into the lungs instead of the oesophagus). From their assessment they make recommendations as to what consistency (if any) the patient is safest to consume. That’s why you should always ask before bringing in food or giving liquid (even water) to a patient who has had a stroke or has a swallowing difficulty. If they’re on thick liquids, giving them water isn’t a great idea. There's a reason for the thick liquids.

- Voice disorders. I don’t know much about these yet and it’s a huge area. I thought it was pretty cool that speechies can be involved in helping transgender men and women speak at a pitch that matches their gender identity- didn’t even think of that one!

- Language. Language is a really common area in speech, particularly in paediatrics. Going in to speech, I thought that kids with lisps and stutters would be far more common than language clients. But it’s the opposite. Language can be broken into expressive and receptive- so speaking and understanding.

- Alternative communication. There’s a whole area focusing on non-verbal individuals. Some people use technology to communicate, and speechies help to facilitate that.

Of course, speech pathologists also work on speech! Speech is again, a big area. There’s phonology, articulation, motor speech disorders, fluency disorders, and many more!

Speechies work with a lot of other professionals, so we learn lots of information shared by other professions. For example, a stroke patient. It’s important to understand the correlation between the location of a stroke and the symptoms that occur as a result. This means we need to learn lots and lots of neuro!

We learn anatomy because we need to talk to doctors and radiologists. We learn a little about hearing to talk to the audiologists. We need to communicate with a variety of other professionals, so you’ve got to pick up the lingo (and a mysterious handwriting decoding ability for referrals. I haven’t mastered that yet)

So there you go, a little portion of what I’m learning over the next two and a half years.

… Hugs and chocolate are always welcome while I’m trying to cram these things into my brain.

Comments

  1. Wow! I never even considered most of that stuff. That sounds really interesting...and here I thought speech pathology was a boring job. Now I know. Great post!

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