What is speech and language therapy / logopaedics?

 

Speech Language Pathology and Logopaedics is both a scientific domain and an autonomous profession. As a science, it is at the intersection of medical, linguistic, educational and psychological sciences and focuses on etiology (causes), assessment (detection, diagnosis and description) of and intervention for communication and swallowing disorders. 

 

Speech and language therapy (SLT) is a vital service for people of all ages with communication problems.

The speech and language therapist / logopaedist is the professional responsible for the prevention, assessment, treatment and scientific study of human communication and associated disorders. In this context, communication encompasses all processes associated with the comprehension and production of spoken and written language, as well as appropriate forms of non-verbal communication.

The SLT works with all disorders of voice, speech and spoken and written language, regardless of aetiology, in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.

The SLT also works with disorders of swallowing  in people of all ages.

Increasingly, SLTs are involved in prevention work and in screening in health and educational settings. 

Through their work, SLTs help people to return to educational, professional, social and cultural life.

They collaborate with the patient’s medical practitioner, their family, and educational, work or social contacts. 

They undertake a preliminary assessment and examination of the disorders observed, identifying as far as possible their cause and making both diagnosis and prognosis; they then decide whether therapy is required. 

Using individual or group therapy, working directly or indirectly with relevant other professionals and family members, SLTs draw on their clinical experience, research and knowledge to employ techniques which will enable all clients to maximise their verbal or non-verbal communicative potential and ability to swallow.  These people  include:

♦  young children whose speech, language or swallowing is not developing normally

♦  children, young persons  and adults who have specific conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, hearing impairment, dyslexia and literacy problems, learning difficulties and many other conditions

♦  persons recovering from stroke and other brain injuries or neurological conditions, also those for whom verbal communication is limited or who have degenerative or advancing conditions which affect the ability to communicate their needs, desires and wishes

♦  people who stammer

♦  people who have had damage to their vocal cords or lost their voice after surgery following cancer

♦  people who experience communication difficulties as a result of a range of health conditions or trauma

♦  people who experience difficulties in swallowing as a result of a range of health conditions or trauma
 

Speech and language therapists-logopaedists across Europe may practise in different sectors and settings, according to the particular socio-economic  circumstances and structures in their own country across the health sector and the education sector.