About Speech and Language Pathology

The field of speech and language pathology describes explains difficulties with communication and swallowing and the consequences for health and quality of life. Speech-language pathology is an interdisciplinary field which combines knowledge from linguistics, psychology and medicine.

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Speech-language pathologists or therapists (SLPs/SLTs) work with individuals of all ages, and assess, diagnose, plan, and provide interventions to prevent, improve and compensate for difficulties with communication, eating or swallowing. SLPs can for example help children, adolescents and adults with speech, language, reading or writing difficulties.

These difficulties can be congenital or present from early development (developmental disorders), e.g., autism, language disorder, cleft palate, celebral palsy, and childhood apraxia of speech and other speech sound disorders. The difficulties can also be a consequence of neurological diseases or a later brain injury, for example acquired speech impairment (dysarthria) or language impairment (aphasia) following a stroke or dementia.

SLPs can also help individuals who stutter, who have voice disorders or individuals with difficulties eating or swallowing, for example children with selective eating, persons with dementia or eating and swallowing difficulties following cancer treatment.

Depending on the area, SLPs often collaborate closely with for example physicians, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, teachers in preschool and school and special education teachers.

Speech and language pathology encompass essential functions for all individuals through the lifespan. In a Swedish report written by researchers representing all SLP departments in Sweden, published data estimating the prevalence of different communication, eating and swallowing difficulties across the life-span is summarized  (Lohmander et al., 2017) . The summary shows that many people are in need of SLP services during their lives – up to 40% of children up to 10 years of age, and about 12-13% of adolescents and adults.


Content reviewer:
Åsa Catapano