by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Speech and language pathologists and audiologists are a profession that often works with people who have mental conditions: problems in communication can in themselves cause mental-health problems, or can magnify those already present.
The goals of speech and language pathologists are to advocate on behalf of persons with communications and other disorders, advance communication science, and promote effective human communication. Many of these professionals work in early intervention, preschool, or elementary schools in order to watch for and screen any problems affecting communicating speech and communication. This is especially important in the years between birth and five, as the brain retains a great deal of plasticity during these years, increasing the chances that therapy will be effective. At the other end of the lifespan, speech and language pathologists provide therapy for those who have problems in swallowing. This is a specialized area with great responsibility, and it requires intensive training.
Audiologists work in specialized places, including soundproof rooms, and they work to prevent hearing loss as well as working to rehabilitate people that experience hearing and balance problems.
These professionals undergo rigorous graduate training and must pass the exam called Certificate of Clinical Competence. They call these “the 3 C’s,” and afterward these initials can be placed following the person’s name.
In early intervention, preschool, or school, children may receive speech-and-language therapy that is provided and paid for by the school district. Some insurance plans also cover speech-and-language evaluations and therapy.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) offers “a find a professional” list as well as other information about these specialties.