*ASHA scope of practice 2007

Speech-language pathologists serve individuals, families, and groups from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Services are provided based on applying the best available research evidence, using expert clinical judgments, and considering clients’ individual preferences and values.

Speech-language pathologists address typical and atypical communication and swallowing in the following areas:

  • Speech sound production
    • articulation
    • apraxia of speech
    • dysarthria
    • ataxia
    • dyskinesia
  • Resonance
    • hypernasality
    • hyponasality
    • cul-de-sac resonance
    • mixed resonance
  • Voice
    • phonation quality
    • pitch
    • loudness
    • respiration
  • Fluency
    • stuttering
    • cluttering
  • Language (comprehension and expression)
    • phonology
    • morphology
    • syntax
    • semantics
    • pragmatics (language use, social aspects of communication)
    • literacy (reading, writing, spelling)
    • prelinguistic communication (e.g., joint attention, intentionality, communicative signaling)
    • paralinguistic communication
  • Cognition
    • attention
    • memory
    • sequencing
    • problem solving
    • executive functioning
  • Feeding and Swallowing
    • oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal
    • orofacial myology (including tongue thrust)
    • oral-motor functions

Potential etiologies 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);
  • auditory problems (e.g., hearing loss or deafness);
  • oral anomalies (e.g., cleft lip/palate, dental malocclusion, macroglossia, oral-motor dysfunction);
  • respiratory 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, tracheostomy);
  • neurological disease/dysfunction (e.g., traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, cerebral vascular accident, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis);
  • psychiatric disorder (e.g., psychosis, schizophrenia);
  • genetic disorders (e.g., Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, velocardiofacial syndrome).

The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment), prevention and advocacy, and education, administration, and research.

Clinical Services
Speech-language pathologists provide clinical services that include the following:

  • prevention and pre-referral
  • screening
  • assessment/evaluation
  • consultation
  • diagnosis
  • treatment, intervention, management
  • counseling
  • collaboration
  • documentation
  • referral