What IS speech pathology?

Speech pathology, speech therapy, speech and language pathology, SLP, speech and language therapy, speech-language pathology.... Which is it? Are they the same thing or not?

This is something that we often get asked. The short answer is, yes. They are the same things, and the professionals have the same qualifications and expertise. It depends a bit on which country the "Speechie" trained in and received their qualification. In Australia, we are generally called Speech Pathologists - that's our official title, but people tend to understand what we do a bit better if we say we are Speech Therapists. In the UK, we are called 'Speech and Language Therapists', in America and Canada, 'Speech-Language Pathologists' and in New Zealand, 'Speech-Language Therapists'. Same thing. We all do the same job.

Soooo, what IS that job again? What EXACTLY does a Speech Pathologist do?
Speech Pathologists basically work with people of any age and any ability, who are having difficulties with their communication, feeding or swallowing. You can find out more detail about speech pathology by visiting the Speech Pathology Australia website here.

'Speechies' work in a variety of settings including in schools, community health services, early childhood intervention programs, private practice, hospitals, aged care services, disability services and many more.  

If you or your child need to see a Speech Pathologist, here are some terms you might hear thrown around at times:
  • Speech - the WAY in which people say words, how they articulate or pronunciate words.
  • Language - this refers to WHAT is said, the actual use and understanding of words and sentences.
  • Voice - how a person's voice sounds, eg. high or low pitched, croaky, strained.
  • Dysfluency - stuttering or stammering. Dysfluencies can be repeating sounds, words or phrases, getting stuck on a sound, having 'blocks' (when the words just won't come out).
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) - using an alternative means of communication when verbal communication is difficult. eg. Electronic devices, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Signing or using gestures. 
  • You can access a more comprehensive glossary of terms from our website shop.
If you think you may need the help of a Speech Pathologist, you can get in touch with one by getting onto the Speech Pathologist directory at Speech Pathology Australia here. If you're in Melbourne, you can give Little Parrots a call to see if we come to your area. If not, we'll point you in the right direction.


  1. Very interesting, well written and easy and still "light" to read! Keep up with the blogging! Jo x


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