Choosing a speech therapist

What you need to know about finding a speech & language pathologist.
The professionals educated to assess speech and language development and treat language and speech disorders are called speech-language pathologists, or speech therapists for short. These professionals also help people with swallowing disorders.

There are many reasons someone may need the services of a speech pathologist, including:

  • A loss of speaking ability, due to a condition such as a stroke

  • Speech impediments of children

  • Disorders such as autism or selective mutism

  • Stuttering

  • Traumatic brain injury
How to choose a speech pathologist

The prime association that certifies and oversees the industry is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The organization issues a Certificate of Clinical Competence to qualified members.

You can see profiles of speech pathologists on Your doctor also can refer you to a speech pathologist, or, if you need one for your child, his or her school can make a referral. You also can request information from the ASHA website about various ailments or conditions that require the services of a speech pathologist.

Are you covered by insurance?

Most speech pathology services are covered under insurance. Ask your insurance provider if you need a referral or if you are covered under any practitioner.

You may need to be evaluated by another physician before you can be covered for speech pathology treatment. It's always best when you are seeing a new specialist to contact your insurance provider for information.

What to expect at your first visit

The first visit typically includes a thorough evaluation of a patient and an assessment of his or her problems. After that, the speech pathologist will work with you to set short- and long-term treatment goals.

Often, patients work directly with speech pathologists and also give them exercises to perform at home. Depending on the patient's condition, speech therapy can take from a few visits to many years of work.

It's important to remember that even though speech, language and swallowing issues may be difficult, working with a qualified and licensed speech pathologist can help.

Sources: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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