Speech Therapy Scope of Practice

Speech Therapy Scope of Practice

The overall objective of speech therapy or speech-language pathology services is to optimize individuals' abilities to communicate and swallow, therefore improving quality of life. Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are responsible for providing the following services: collaboration with other disciplines for holistic care (i.e. OT and PT), prevention/wellness programs, screening, assessment, treatment, and modalities/technology. The following list of treatment areas and bulleted examples are taken directly from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website (the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for all SLPs): ...

  • Fluency- Stuttering and cluttering
  • Speech Production- Motor planning and execution, articulation, and phonological
  • Language- Spoken and written language (listening, processing, speaking, reading, writing, and pragmatics/social aspects of communication)
  • Cognition- Attention, memory, problem solving, and executive functioning
  • Voice- Phonation quality, pitch, loudness, and alaryngeal voice
  • Resonance- Hypernasality, hyponasality, cul-de-sac resonance, and forward focus
  • Feeding and Swallowing- Oral phase, pharyngeal phase, esophageal phase, and atypical eating (e.g., food selectivity/refusal, negative physiologic response)
  • Auditory Habilitation/Rehabilitation- Speech, language, communication, and listening skills impacted by hearing loss, deafness, and auditory processing

Potential causes of communication and swallowing disorders include:

  • Neonatal problems (e.g., prematurity, low birth weight, substance exposure);
  • Developmental disabilities (e.g., specific language impairment, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, learning disabilities, attention-deficit disorder, intellectual disabilities, unspecified neurodevelopmental disorders);
  • Disorders of aerodigestive tract function (e.g., irritable larynx, chronic cough, abnormal respiratory patterns or airway protection, paradoxical vocal fold motion, tracheostomy);
  • Oral anomalies (e.g., cleft lip/palate, dental malocclusion, macroglossia, oral motor dysfunction);
  • Respiratory patterns and compromise (e.g., bronchopulmonary dysplasia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease);
  • Pharyngeal anomalies (e.g., upper airway obstruction, velopharyngeal insufficiency/incompetence);
  • Laryngeal anomalies (e.g., vocal fold pathology, tracheal stenosis);
  • Neurological disease/dysfunction (e.g., traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, cerebrovascular accident, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis);
  • Psychiatric disorder (e.g., psychosis, schizophrenia);
  • Genetic disorders (e.g., Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, velocardiofacial syndrome); and
  • Orofacial myofunctional disorders (e.g., habitual open-mouth posture/nasal breathing, orofacial habits, tethered oral tissues, chewing and chewing muscles, lips and tongue resting position).

Is there an overlap?

Physical therapists may treat children with the same diagnosis as SLPs but for different treatment areas. For example, a physical therapist may address a child’s postures to better allow the speech therapist to work on swallowing skills.

Occupational therapist scope of practice overlaps in two areas, cognition/executive functioning/memory and feeding (i.e. self-feeding and food selectivity/refusal).


Meet TheraPLACE’s awesome speech therapy team:

Speech Therapy Department

From left to right: Emily, Lauren S., Ashley, Britt, and Lauren G.

Resource: http://www.asha.org/policy/SP2016-00343/