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Speech Sound Disorders-Articulation and Phonology

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons with speech sound disorders. The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment); prevention and advocacy; and education, administration, and research. See ASHA's Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (ASHA, 2016b).

Appropriate roles for SLPs include the following:

  • Providing prevention information to individuals and groups known to be at risk for speech sound disorders, as well as to individuals working with those at risk
  • Educating other professionals on the needs of persons with speech sound disorders and the role of SLPs in diagnosing and managing speech sound disorders
  • Screening individuals who present with speech sound difficulties and determining the need for further assessment and/or referral for other services
  • Recognizing that students with speech sound disorders have heightened risks for later language and literacy problems
  • Conducting a culturally and linguistically relevant comprehensive assessment of speech, language, and communication
  • Taking into consideration the rules of a spoken accent or dialect, typical dual-language acquisition from birth, and sequential second-language acquisition to distinguish difference from disorder
  • Diagnosing the presence or absence of a speech sound disorder
  • Referring to and collaborating with other professionals to rule out other conditions, determine etiology, and facilitate access to comprehensive services
  • Making decisions about the management of speech sound disorders
  • Making decisions about eligibility for services, based on the presence of a speech sound disorder
  • Developing treatment plans, providing intervention and support services, documenting progress, and determining appropriate service delivery approaches and dismissal criteria
  • Counseling persons with speech sound disorders and their families/caregivers regarding communication-related issues and providing education aimed at preventing further complications related to speech sound disorders
  • Serving as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals with speech sound disorders and their families/caregivers (see ASHA's resource on interprofessional education/interprofessional practice [IPE/IPP])
  • Consulting and collaborating with professionals, family members, caregivers, and others to facilitate program development and to provide supervision, evaluation, and/or expert testimony (see ASHA's resource on person- and family-centered care)
  • Remaining informed of research in the area of speech sound disorders, helping advance the knowledge base related to the nature and treatment of these disorders, and using evidence-based research to guide intervention
  • Advocating for individuals with speech sound disorders and their families at the local, state, and national levels

As indicated in the Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2016a), SLPs who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so.

Content Disclaimer: The Practice Portal, ASHA policy documents, and guidelines contain information for use in all settings; however, members must consider all applicable local, state and federal requirements when applying the information in their specific work setting.