May is Better Speech and Hearing Month

by Katharine Elsbree M.S., CCC/SLP

With May flowers comes a special time of year for speech-language pathologists…Better Hearing and Speech Month.  This annual event provides our profession opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing.

When I tell people that I am a speech-language pathologist, I get many similar questions and responses like, how is that different than a speech therapist, or a speech teacher?  So you work with speech? And, my personal favorite…”Ooooh.  So what are you doing this weekend?”

In reality, unless people received speech therapy themselves or know someone that has, they probably don’t know exactly what we do.  We DO work with speech…AND so much more.  SLP’s (as we are called) need a Masters degree and a huge amount of knowledge before they can practice in the “real world.”  Our scope of practice includes working with people from neonates to geriatrics and all ages in between.  Our client’s communication problems may be caused by a wide range of problems from developmental disabilities to neurological disease/dysfunction to genetic disorders.  And if that isn’t hard enough to grasp (let alone learn!), here is a list of the types of problems we are trained to improve…

Speech sound production (articulation, apraxia of speech, dysarthria, ataxia, dyskinesia)

Resonance (hypernasality, hyponasality, cul-de-sac resonance, mixed resonance)

Voice (phonation quality, pitch, loudness, respiration)

Fluency (stuttering, cluttering)

Language comprehension and expression (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics- language use, social aspects of communication, literacy- reading, writing, spelling, prelinguistic communication- joint attention, intentionality, communicative signaling, paralinguistic communication

Cognition (attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, executive functioning)

Feeding and swallowing (oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal, orofacial myology including tongue thrust, oral-motor functions)

No wonder most of our families thought we had disappeared during our graduate school years!  Overall as a group, we don’t complain (much!)…we love what we do.  We love figuring out where skills are breaking down to help build a bridge to the next level, we love finding just the right toy /game/material to motivate a child to push on, and we love working with our families to (hopefully) improve their lives outside of therapy.   So three cheers for SLPs!

For more info and fun, check out the BHSM activities on our website!

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  1. Hello!I have a four month old son, Theo, who has been babbling for about a month with the reecnt addition of raspberries’. He is excited when anyone responds to his babbles, and will sometimes pause for a reaction.My husband and I are wondering what we can do to demonstrate that we are listening. Do we repeat back the vowel sounds, offer him a word that starts with that vowel, or reply with a sentence and not worry about incorporating his babble sound into it?Thanks for making early stories so fascinating and accessible, Kim! The blog is awesome.

    1. Hi Kim
      Sorry for the delayed response, your post got lost in a bunch of spam! Yes! repeating the sounds back is a great way to encourage babbling. Once you have a little “conversational” back and forth going you can start to change the sounds a bit to see if he will follow.

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