Speech Language Pathologist, SLP, Speech Teacher, Speech Therapist, Communication Specialist – What’s the difference?
The professional title your child’s therapist has earned is Speech Language Pathologist. This title is abbreviated to SLP for short. A pathologist’s job is to interpret and diagnose what they see in your child’s speech and language development. SLPs are trained to work with children and people of all ages. They not only address Speech and Language Development but many are also typically trained as Feeding Specialists, to work with people on the Autism Spectrum, and to assist with cognitive deficits, executive functioning deficits, or Social Communication Disorders. Because SLPs work with many different delays and deficits it is very important to determine where your child’s area of need is and then seek out a SLP who focuses on this area.
So why are there so many titles for Speech Language Pathologists?
Depending on the therapist’s work setting and when your child started therapy you may have been told a certain title. For example if your child is seeing someone at a hospital most likely they were introduced as a Speech Language Pathologist. If your child is being seen at school most likely they were introduced as a Speech Therapist. If your child started with Speech in Early Intervention most likely they were introduced as a Speech Teacher. The main reason for the wide variety in titles is really due to use of terminology that works best for that moment in a family’s life. If you have a baby, hearing the word therapist or pathologist can add an extra layer of stress to an already difficult time and that is why “teacher” is sometimes used.
Regardless of the title, really the most important thing when choosing someone is just to verify that they are an accredited Speech Language Pathologist. They should be licensed in the state you are in and most SLPs are also certified by ASHA (The American Speech-Language- Hearing Association).