Often times, people confuse Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists or simply believe they are one in the same. Although they may work together, their roles are completely different. They deal with different disorders and problems and offer different kinds of diagnosis, assessments, and treatments.
A Speech Language Pathologist, or Speech Therapist, is a clinician who specializes in evaluating and treating communication disorders, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders, as well as the understanding of language. An audiologist evaluates, diagnoses, treats, and manages hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. They also deal with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Speech pathology and audiology also deal with different parts of the body. A speech pathologist usually works with the tongue, lips, mouth, and throat, the organs that are related to speech production. An audiologist, on the other hand, mainly assesses the outer, middle, and inner ear and the pathway from the ear to the brain.
Another difference between speech pathology and audiology is that audiology is more of a black-and-white field. A hearing loss is usually easier to diagnose than a speech problem, and the cause of hearing loss is usually a result of problems with the hearing organs. An audiologist performs a series of tests to determine the presence, severity, and cause of a hearing loss. However, speech problems are harder to diagnose and can result from a number of factors. These include: brain injuries, cleft palates, learning disorders, developmental delays, or weakness of the speech muscles. A speech pathologist will typically perform an evaluation that assesses both receptive and expressive language.
Both disciplines deal with problems related to communication. Speech and language problems affect how a person is understood by others. Hearing problems affect how a person can understand others. Speech pathology and audiology deal with different parts of the body and treat different kinds of problems, yet they are often tied together when it comes to assessment and treatment. A hearing impairment commonly leads to speech problems in communicating or comprehending. For this reason, a person who has been diagnosed with speech problems may be referred for an assessment in both speech pathology and audiology.
If you think you or your child is having trouble with speech, or if you are looking for treatment, contact Christine Wilson today!