Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons with resonance 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).
For further information regarding the role of the SLP in the management of persons with cleft lip and palate and associated craniofacial conditions, which includes VPD, the reader is referred to ASHA's Practice Portal page on Cleft Lip and Palate.
In cases of resonance disorders in other (noncleft) populations, appropriate roles for SLPs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Providing prevention information to individuals and groups known to be at risk for resonance disorders, as well as to individuals working with those at risk
- Educating other professionals on the needs of individuals with resonance disorders and the role of SLPs in diagnosing and managing resonance disorders
- Screening (including hearing) of individuals who present with signs and symptoms consistent with a resonance disorder; determining the need for further assessment and/or referral for other services
- Conducting a comprehensive, culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment of speech and resonance problems associated with resonance disorders, including perceptual and acoustic assessment of speech as well as evaluation of articulation when abnormal productions are noted
- Conducting and interpreting imaging studies of the velopharynx during speech to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning (e.g., nasopharyngoscopy and videofluoroscopy), when indicated
- Differentially diagnosing resonance disorders
- Collaborating with physicians to determine etiology
- Referring to other professionals to rule out other conditions and to facilitate access to comprehensive services
- For children with suspected VPD—regardless of cause—referring to a craniofacial or cleft palate team for further assessment
- Contributing to decisions about the management of resonance disorders, including behavioral speech therapy, as well as surgical and prosthetic treatments
- Developing treatment plans, providing treatment, documenting progress, and determining appropriate dismissal criteria
- Counseling individuals with resonance disorders and their families regarding communication-related issues and providing education aimed at preventing further complications relating to these conditions
- Consulting and collaborating with other professionals, family members, caregivers, and others to facilitate program development and to provide supervision, evaluation, and/or expert advice or opinion, as appropriate
- Serving as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals with resonance disorders and their families/caregivers—see ASHA's resources on interprofessional education/interprofessional practice [IPE/IPP] and person- and family-centered care
- Remaining informed of research in the area of resonance disorders and helping advance the knowledge base related to the nature and treatment of these conditions
- Advocating for individuals with resonance disorders and their families at the local, state, and national levels
- Providing quality control and risk management
As indicated in ASHA's Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2016a), SLPs who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so.