Speech Language Pathology and Audiology

Speech - language pathology

Speech - language pathology is the study of disorders of speech and language. The field was referred to as 'Speech and Hearing' in earlier literature. Speech- language pathologists, sometimes also called speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat and help prevent speech, language, cognitive, communication, voice, swallowing, fluency, and other related disorders. They provide a range of services including prevention, identification, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, teaching, counselling and consultation. They also engage themselves in basic and applied research activities related to human communication and its disorders. They help individuals to prevent and overcome communication problems in language, speech, voice, and fluency. They work with people who cannot make speech sounds, or cannot make them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering. They also work with people who have swallowing difficulties.

b) Audiology

Audiology is the study of hearing and its problems. An Audiologist measures a person's hearing, diagnosis hearing loss and prescribes a suitable hearing aid whenever necessary. He/she may also be involved in auditory rehabilitation of hearing impaired children and adults. Hearing screening, noise measurement may also be part of an Audiologists job requirement. Audiologists assess the extent of hearing loss, balance and related disorders and recommend appropriate treatment. These services are provided to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and persons at. risk of hearing loss due to noise exposure, genetic causes or middle ear infections. Audiologists also work with children and adults who need aural rehabilitation, such as auditory training and speech reading, and educate parents and professionals on the prevention of hearing loss. They provide information and training on all aspects of hearing and balance to other professions including psychology, counseling, rehabilitation and education.

Speech-language pathologists use written and oral tests, as well as special instruments, to diagnose the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech, language, and swallowing irregularities. They develop an individualized plan of care, tailored to each patient's needs. Speech language pathologists help patients develop, or recover, reliable communication skills so that the patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social roles.

Job Opportunities

There are ample opportunities of getting a good job for a speech - language pathologist or an audiologist. They can look for it in educational services, including preschool, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities. Others can be absorbed in different hospitals; offices of other health practitioners, including speech language pathologists; nursing care facilities; home healthcare services; individual and family services: outpatient care centers; child day care services: or other such facilities. They are highly paid. A few speech language pathologists/ audiologists can be self-employed in private practice They can contract to provide services in schools, offices of physicians, hospitals, or nursing care facilities, or work as consultants to industry.

Most speech-language pathologists provide direct clinical services to individuals with communication or swallowing disorders. In speech and language clinics, they may independently develop and carry out treatment programs. In medical facilities, they may work with physicians, social workers, psychologists, and other therapists. In schools, they can develop individual Or group programs, counsel parents and may assist teachers with classroom activities. They also work with family members to recognize and change behaviour patterns that impede communication and treatment and show, them communication enhancing techniques to use at home. Some speech-language pathologists conduct research on how people communicate. Others design and develop equipment, or techniques for diagnosing and treating speech problems.

The number of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in private practice is rising due to the increasing use of contract services by hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities.

Where these professionals can work

- Hospitals
- Public and private schools
-Rehabilitation Centers
- Nursing care facilities
- Community clinics
- Colleges and universities
- Private practice offices
- State and local health departments
- Home health agencies (home care)
- Long-term care facilities
- Adult day care centers
- Centers for persons with developmental disabilities
- Research laboratories

How to become a speech language pathologist and audiologist

Many colleges and universities offer graduate and post graduate programme in speech-language pathology not only in India, but also in other parts of the globe. Courses cover ENT, anatomy and physiology of the areas of the body involved in speech, language, swallowing, and hearing; the development of normal speech, language, swallowing, and hearing; the nature of disorders: acoustics and electronics: linguistics; and psychological aspects of communication. The course also includes subjects like Community oriented professional practices in speech language pathology and audiology and Basic statistics and research methods. Graduate students learn to evaluate and treat speech, language, swallowing, and hearing disorders and at the same time, they also receive supervised clinical training in communication disorders.

Science combination at the Intermediate level is an essential qualification to enter into the graduation course. Most institutes require a minimum of 50 per cent marks in aggregate. The duration of the course is four years for B.Sc. (Three years for course work and one year for internship). It comprises both theoretical and practical (clinical) orientation.

After completion, they can pursue a M.Sc./M.A. programme in the same field or other associated field such as Linguistics, from where they can give direction to their career to the field of Academics' and research. Others can open up their own clinic or join different hospitals/ clinics and other rehabilitation units. They also become eligible to apply for various job/education in all over the world.

Some Indian institutes that offer this course (RCI recognized)
- All India Institute of Speech arid Hearing, Manasagangotri, Mysore .
- Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH), Bandra Reclamation, Bandra, West, Mumbai.
- AYJNIHH, NRC, Kasturba Niketan, Lajpat Nagar-it, New Delhi .
- AYJNIHH, SRC, Manovikas Nagar, Secunderabad.
- AYJNIHH, CRC., Kolkatta.
- Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Sector-12, Chandigarh .
- Nair Charitable Hospital, Dr. A.L. Nair Road , Mumbai.
- JSS Medical College, Mysore .
- Helen Keller's Institute of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, Bank Colony, Secunderabad.
- Dr MV Shetty Institute of Speech and Hearing, AB Shetty circle, Hampanakatta, Mangalore.
- Dr SRC Institute of Speech and Hearing, Kariyana palya, Lingarajapuram, Bangalore .

Brajesh Priyadarshi (The author is Delhi based educationist.)