Speech Language Pathology

What Do Speech-Language Pathologists (S-LPs) Do?

Speech-Language Pathologists are specialists in communication and swallowing disorders. The title of the profession is Speech-Language Pathologist although Speech and Language Therapist, Speech Therapist or Orthophoniste (French) are used in different places. In Canada before the 1970’s the title most commonly used was Speech Therapist, but this was changed to reflect the growing awareness that “Language” is a major part of the assessment and treatment of communication disorders. Speech Correction or elocution is NOT the focus of Speech Language Pathology.

The ability to communicate is central to all that we do ‑ to who we are, how we learn and how we relate to each other at home, at school and at work. In Nova Scotia, approximately 100,000 people have a communication disorder of some kind. Thousands of people fail to access education, social, economic and career opportunities due to communication difficulties.

Speech-Language Pathologists work to assess, diagnose and develop a treatment plan to maximize the communication potential of the people under their care and may also refer them to other professionals or agencies.

Speech-Language Pathologists also work to support people with chewing and swallowing difficulties, voice/resonance problems, and dysfluency (stuttering).

Such work will involve direct contact with people with communication and swallowing difficulties as well as significant others in their lives

With Whom do S-LPs Work?

Babies – who have:

  • feeding and swallowing difficulties
  • cleft lip and palate
  • neuro-muscular difficulties such as Cerebral Palsy
  • genetic syndromes such as Down Syndrome
  • congenital hearing loss

Children – who have:

  • physical disabilities
  • delayed onset or development of language / communication
  • specific language impairment
  • difficulties in producing sounds
  • motor speech disorders
  • hearing impairment / cochlear implant
  • cleft palate
  • stuttering / dysfluency
  • autism spectrum disorders /social interaction difficulties
  • dyslexia / mild, moderate or severe learning difficulties
  • voice problems

Adults – who have:

  • neurological impairments and degenerative conditions including: head injury, Parkinson’s, MS, motor‑neuron disease, dementia
  • cancer of the head, neck and throat‑ including laryngectomy
  • post stroke, swallowing and communication difficulties
  • voice problems
  • learning difficulties
  • physical disability
  • stuttering
  • hearing impairment

Where Do S-LPs Work?

Speech-Language Pathologists in Nova Scotia work in a variety of settings and with people of all ages.

The Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres provide assessment and treatment to children from birth to school age and to adults with communication, voice and swallowing deficits. See NSHSC site: http://www.nshsc.ns.ca/servicespeech.html from which the following was excerpted:

“There are 35 (full time equivalent) Speech-Language Pathologists working in 28 sites located across 24 communities in Nova Scotia. They all have a masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology and are certified by the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Speech-Language Pathologists provide clinical services in speech, language (speaking and understanding), voice, swallowing, and non-speech communication (e.g. picture communication, “sign” languages, computer devices). Their work includes: helping community groups with initiatives in prevention, awareness, and early intervention; consulting with professionals in hospitals and early intervention programs for children; teaching speech-language pathology interns and students in related fields; participating in research and development of clinical materials and programs, and providing a variety of workshops and training sessions to families, professionals, and other community groups.”

All School Boards in Nova Scotia employ Speech-Language Pathologists who usually work in a circuit or family of schools.  They have their own Special Association within the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (SPAA) which provides them with the specific continuing education opportunities pertinent to their profession. Some S-LPs in the schools also have their B.Ed. in addition to their Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology and all have a Teacher’s Certificate and are either certified or elligible for certification by the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA).

Private Practice Clinics are growing in Nova Scotia and their services are available to the public in various communities.  Private S-LPs offer treatment in their clinics, in daycares, long term care facilities and in some cases will see clients in their homes.

Other S-LPs work in community settings which may include Community Services centres, day cares and community colleges.

If you are accessing the services of an S-LP outside of the Regional School Boards or the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres, be sure to ask if they are certified with the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA). Until we have achieved provincial licensure in Nova Scotia through the Department of Health, this is the only way you can be sure you are dealing with a properly qualified professional in this field.

Our website contains listings of certified Speech-Language Pathologists who provide private services in Nova Scotia. To be listed on our web-site, the S-LP must be a certified CASLPA / SHANS member in good standing.