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, 2016).
Appropriate roles for SLPs include:
- 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;
- conducting a culturally and linguistically relevant comprehensive assessment of speech, language, and communication;
- 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;
- serving as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals with speech sound disorders and their families/caregivers;
- 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;
- consulting and collaborating with professionals, family members, caregivers, and others to facilitate program development and to provide supervision, evaluation, and/or expert testimony;
- 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, 2016), SLPs who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so.