Qualities of an SLP

Important Qualities of an SLP

Compassion. Speech-language pathologists work with people who are often frustrated by their difficulties. Speech-language pathologists must be able to support emotionally demanding patients and their families.

Critical-thinking skills. Speech-language pathologists must be able to adjust their treatment plans as needed, finding alternative ways to help their patients.

Detail oriented. The work of speech-language pathologists requires intense concentration to listen to what patients are able to say and to help them improve their speech.

Listening skills. Speech-language pathologists must listen to a patient’s symptoms and problems to decide on a course of treatment.

Patience. Speech-language pathologists may work with people who need more time and attention.

Speaking skills. Speech-language pathologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments in a way that patients and their families can understand.

Job Outlook

Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

As the large baby-boom population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments, such as strokes and hearing loss. These increases are expected to add to the number of speech and language disorders in the population and require more speech-language pathologists to treat these patients.

Increased awareness of speech and language disorders, such as stuttering, in younger children should also lead to a need for more speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating that age group.

In addition, medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature infants and victims of trauma and strokes, many of whom need help from speech-language pathologists.


Speech-Language Pathologists Duties

The Duties of an SLP

When diagnosing patients, speech-language pathologists typically do the following:

  • Communicate with patients to evaluate their levels of speech or language difficulty
  • Determine the extent of communication problems by having a patient complete basic reading and vocalizing tasks or by giving standardized tests
  • Identify treatment options
  • Create and carry out an individualized treatment plan

When treating patients, speech-language pathologists typically do the following:

  • Teach patients how to make sounds and improve their voices
  • Teach alternative communication methods, such as sign language, to patients with little or no speech capability
  • Work with patients to increase their ability to read and write correctly
  • Work with patients to develop and strengthen the muscles used to swallow
  • Counsel patients and families on how to cope with communication disorders

Speech-language pathologists work with patients who have problems with speech, such as being unable to speak at all or speaking with difficulty, or with rhythm and fluency, such as stuttering. They may work with those who are unable to understand language or with people who have voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or a harsh voice.

Speech-language pathologists must also do various administrative tasks, including keeping good records. They record their initial patient evaluations and diagnoses, treatment progress, any changes in a patient’s condition or treatment plan, and, eventually, their final evaluation when the patient finishes the therapy.

Some speech-language pathologists specialize in working with specific age groups, such as children or the elderly. Others focus on treatment programs for specific communication or swallowing problems, such as those resulting from strokes or cleft palate.

Speech Therapy with Children

In the development of speech in children, you should be focusing on three main areas. The first of these, and most obvious, is articulation. If a child is not able to properly sound out words, they will always have problems with speech. Second is language. A child must understand how different parts of a word work together, what role semantics and syntax play, and the social aspects of language. Literacy is the last and third area of focus. The ability to comprehend the meanings of different parts of speech and understand what is being said to you is integral in your ability to effectively communicate.

To improve articulation in your child you need to have them practice the sound that is proving difficult repeatedly throughout the day. To begin, only focus on the sound by itself. For instance, to work with the s only make an s sound with no other syllable. After this is mastered, you may add syllables, like s-ah, and then work up to full words. An understanding of language can be greatly enhanced simply by reading or talking with your child every single day. As children see language used and are encouraged to use it, they will naturally build a greater understanding of this concept.

Literacy can be built also by reading a book or telling a story. Throughout reading or storytelling, ask your child questions about what they are hearing or saying. For instance, ask them what has happened so far, what they think will happen, and why events are unfolding the way that they are.



Many fun speech therapy games and activities can be store bought or are available on the Internet and can be found with just a simple Google search. You can create fun games and activities yourself as well. Try making flashcards with various sounds, morphemes, graphemes, or words that your child is struggling with. On a large white board, you can write a letter with your child to someone they care about, making sure, he or she actively participates in word choice, spelling, and end with having your child read the letter aloud. Another fun game is to recite tongue twisters, having your child clap or snap when they hear a target sound they have been struggling with. For example, in the tongue twister, “Sally sells seashells by the seashore” have your child clap every time they hear the s sound.



Getting started with Speech Pathology Pathology

  • During high school, you should consider courses in biology, physics, social sciences, English, mathematics, public speaking, language, and psychology.
  • On the undergraduate level, a strong arts and sciences focus is recommended, with course work in linguistics, phonetics, anatomy, psychology, human development, biology, physiology, mathematics, physical science, social/behavioral sciences, and semantics. A program of study in communication sciences and disorders is available at the undergraduate level.

Applicants in speech-language pathology must earn a graduate degree, successfully complete the required clinical experiences, and pass a national examination. In some areas, such as college teaching, research, and private practice, a PhD degree is desirable.

Careers in SLP

SLPs may:

  • prepare future professionals in college and universities
  • manage agencies, clinics, organizations, or private practices
  • engage in research to enhance knowledge about human communication processes
  • supervise and direct public school or clinical programs
  • develop new methods and equipment to evaluate problems
  • establish more effective treatments
  • investigate behavioral patterns associated with communication disorders

Practices in SLP:

  • public and private schools
  • hospitals
  • rehabilitation centers
  • short- and long-term nursing care facilities
  • community clinics
  • colleges and universities
  • private practice offices
  • state and local health departments
  • state and federal government agencies
  • home health agencies (home care)
  • adult day care centers
  • centers for persons with developmental disabilities
  • research laboratories

SLPs must have:

  • a sincere interest in helping people
  • above‑average intellectual aptitude
  • the sensitivity, personal warmth, and perspective to interact
    with a person who has a communication problem
  • scientific aptitude, patience, emotional stability, tolerance,
    and persistence
  • resourcefulness and imagination
  • a commitment to work cooperatively with others
  • the ability to communicate both orally and in writing

Career Facts about Speech Language Pathologists

Speech Pathologists

Job Description

  • Speech pathologists, officially called speech-language pathologists and sometimes called speech therapists, work with people who have a variety of speech-related disorders. These disorders can include the inability to produce certain sounds, speech rhythm and fluency problems, and voice disorders. They also help people who want to modify accents or who have swallowing difficulties. Speech pathologists’ work involves assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of speech-related disorders.

Employment Facts

  • Speech pathologists held about 119,000 jobs in 2008. Approximately half of these jobs were in schools, including pre-schools and elementary and secondary schools. Other speech pathologists worked in hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, including speech-language pathologists, nursing care facilities, home health care services, individual and family services, outpatient care centers and child day care services. Some speech pathologists were self-employed.

Educational Requirements

  • In most states one must have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology to work as a speech pathologist. Some states will only license speech pathologists who have graduated from a program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Coursework includes anatomy,physiology, the nature of disorders and the principles of acoustics. Graduate students receive supervised clinical training.

Speech Pathologist’s Life

On a typical day a speech pathologist will:

  • use written and oral tests, as well as special instruments, to diagnose the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech, language, and swallowing irregularities;
  • develop an individualized plan of care tailored to each patient’s needs;
  • select augmentative or alternative communication methods, including automated devices and sign language, and teach their use to individuals with little or no speech capability;
  • teach those with little or no speech capability how to make sounds, improve their voices, or increase their language skills to communicate more effectively;
  • help patients who have suffered loss of speech develop, or recover, reliable communication skills so patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social roles