• Wendy Richardson

'Speechies', SLP's, Speech Therapists and Speech Pathologists - just who are they?

The various names, given to the university-trained professionals who deal with communication and oro-motor difficulties, can be very perplexing.

Yet all of the names above are commonly used, and do apply.

Originally, in Australia, these professionals were referred to as Speech Therapists.

However, by the 1970's this changed to Speech Pathologist to indicate that the profession worked mostly with clients having difficulty attaining 'normal' abilities.

More recently, their work with language has been recognised, with the inclusion of 'language' in the title, hence Speech and Language Pathologist, abbreviated to SLP's.

Most speech pathologists are keen to be accessible and friendly people, and, as is often the way in Australia, the informal term 'speechie' has been commonly used for a long time.

The SLP's work is different to the work of elocution teachers, speech and drama teachers, singing teachers, and voice coaches, who may or may not have tertiary-level training, or indeed the breadth of training that this profession does have. Most importantly, these other professions typically work with individuals who are seeking to extend their skills above the norm.

In Australia, SLP's are regulated by their professional organisation Speech Pathology Australia, and are required to maintain a high level of professional development each year, earning them the title Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist.

Speech Pathologist is the most common name for this profession.

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