Speech pathology is the scientific study and treatment of speech problems. These can range from genetic defects to disorders brought on later in life. Postgraduate study in this field provides students with the knowledge to better identify and treat these ailments. They learn to work with clients who may have hearing problems, traumatic brain injuries or intellectual disabilities.
The field developed in 18th century England with tutors in elocution, but this was far from the speech pathology we know today. The concern back then was simply to perfect speech without regard to any disorders present in the student. It wasn’t until WWII soldiers began returning home in the 1940s that significant need arose for cognitive studies and treatments for speech defects brought on by the horrors of war.
Speech pathology has been a staple of modern science ever since. People suffering from various cognitive and physical speech inhibitors are now thankful to have a field of specialists they can rely on.
This field is for students who empathise with sufferers of speech issues. It can be for people that have loved ones with these conditions or know how detrimental they are from study. Students who want to gain insight into conditions affecting speech so they can help others could find themselves in fulfilling careers as speech pathologists.
Dedicated postgraduate speech pathology courses can be taken up to master level. Students wishing to embark upon PhDs in this field must do so within the bounds of a philosophy PhD, which is focussed more on special interest than explicitly gaining skills for a speech pathology career.
Graduate certificate courses in speech pathology take six months of full time study to complete. These programs grant improved understanding of clinical reasoning, management of chronic diseases, use of motivational interviewing and an array of other useful techniques and knowledge. James Cook University offers this sort of content via their Graduate Certificate of Rehabilitation, with speech pathology as an available major.
Graduate diplomas in speech pathology are designed for students that are already speech pathologists, taking one year of full time study to complete. Courses like those offered by Australian Catholic University provide students with more advanced knowledge in developing inclusive programs, reasoning and modern methodology to bolster their career.
The Master of Speech Pathology is a more inclusive program, providing graduate students with unrelated bachelor degrees the opportunity to learn the fundamentals. The University of Melbourne’s program is an example of this, providing core knowledge in determining health, basic anatomy, physiology, linguistics and phonetics before delving into clinical practice.
Dealing with children can be daunting for those without proper expertise in the world. It is from this necessity that paediatric speech pathology becomes a sound career pathway. Speech Pathology Australia hire all manner of professionals, including those well-versed in modern techniques for aiding speech in children.
The elderly have entirely different needs and considerations to younger and healthier people. Speech pathologists working in this field have to be particularly careful the programs they develop are well-suited to these health differences. Companies like Vivir Healthcare are a testament to this need, employing specialists in geriatric speech pathology through residential aged care.
Speech pathologists can find employment by becoming experts in dealing with stuttering. It is a common issue, making it a sound basis for a career in this field. International organisations like the European Clinical Specialisation in Fluency Disorders employ experts in this area, who are equipped with the experience and skills to combat these disorders.
There are numerous subject areas within speech-language pathology (SLP) available for exploration. The following are just a few of these: