Florida speech-language pathologists are in high-demand – at our Southwest Florida pediatric therapy clinic and elsewhere. Speech-language pathology (SLP) ranks as one of the most desirable – and fulfilling – careers out there. Not only do these professionals enjoy significant job stability, good compensation, and numerous opportunities for career advancement, they have a direct role in the tangible well-being of their patients – and that’s truly why most of us are drawn to this field.
We know that at FOCUS Therapy, watching a pediatric speech therapy session can seem a bit like you’re watching play time. (And don’t get us wrong – we do have A LOT of fun!) But there is actually a great deal of study and consideration that goes into tailoring each session to help the individual child reach their goals.
We find that for parents, it’s helpful to know exactly the kind of training and dedication these professionals take on to get to the point of being able to structure play-based therapy (the kind we find most effective when working with children).
What Exactly Do Florida Speech-Language Pathologists Do?
Speech-language pathologists are experts in communication, and can actually work with people of ages – from infants to the elderly. They treat many different kinds of issues related to communication and swallowing. Some of these include:
- Speech sounds. This is how we say sounds and put sounds together to form words. We sometimes refer to these as articulation or phonological disorders. They can also include dysarthria and apraxia of speech.
- Language. This is how well we understand what we hear or read and how we use words to tell others what we’re thinking. With adults, this is referred to as aphasia.
- Literacy. This refers to how well someone is able to read and write. Lots of people (especially children) with speech & language disorders may also have trouble reading, writing, and spelling.
- Social communication. This is how well someone is able to follow social rules, like talking to different people, how close you should stand to someone when you’re talking, and how to take turns in a conversation. Formally, this is referred to as pragmatics.
- Voice. This is how a voice sounds. One might talk through their nose, speak too loudly, lose their voice easily, sound hoarse, or struggle/be unable to make sounds at all.
- Fluency. Most people know this as “stuttering,” and it refers to how well speech flows. Lots of young children stutter, but many grow out of it. Those with persistent issues should consult with an SLP.
- Feeding and swallowing. This involves how a person chews, sucks, and swallows liquid and food. Poor nutrition can cause a host of health problems. Southwest Florida speech-language pathologists can help.
- Cognitive communication. A deficit in this area would involve problems with organization, attention, memory, problem-solving and other thinking skills.
You can find speech-language pathologists in private pediatric practices like FOCUS Therapy, but they’re also employable at schools, hospitals, doctors’ offices, rehabilitation clinics, and colleges/universities.
Steps to Becoming an SLP
The basic steps to becoming a speech-language pathologist in Florida are:
- Earning your bachelor’s degree in a related field. This is a four-year commitment. Two undergraduate degrees that many SLPs commonly earn are a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. These are ideal if you know early on you want to become a speech-language pathologist. But it’s not uncommon for people to switch majors a few years in. Other bachelor’s degrees that can be well-suited to a later career in speech-language pathology are education, linguistics, and psychology (particularly if you pair them with a minor in something like communication sciences and disorders.