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Speech Therapy Terms

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – Communication methods used by a person with a communication disorder. to enhance or replace spoken or written communication. AAC can be unaided or aided by a device or communication tool, and can be low-tech (paper or equivalent) or high-tech (computer, smartphone, or dedicated device).

Apraxia of Speech (AOS) – An acquired motor speech disorder that impairs the ability to form and execute the motor plans for speech.

Assessment – The evaluation phase of therapy in which a speech therapist determines whether an impairment exists, the degree and nature of the impairment, and sets the direction for therapy, usually with a written report summarizing the findings. Assessments may include formal or standardized tests or may be informal, consisting of an interview or a variety of non-standardized tasks. Many assessments include a combination of formal and informal measures.

Dysphagia – Impaired swallowing. Dysphagia is common after a stroke, but also occurs from other neurological conditions or physical damage to the mouth, throat, or esophagus. Speech-language pathologists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of oral and pharyngeal dysphagia. Exercises, modified diets, and strategies may be recommended after a clinical/bedside or instrumental assessment.

Phonological Awareness – A set of skills that allow a person to hear and manipulate the sounds in words regardless of the meaning. Rhyming, alliteration, segmenting, and blending are all phonological awareness skills.

Pragmatics – The social use of language, including tone of voice, taking turns in a conversation, providing context to a story, and using words appropriate to the audience or situation.

Autism (ASD) – A neurodevelopmental disorder that often involves impaired social interaction, decreased communication skills, and repetitive behaviors.

Communication Disorder – Any disorder that impairs communication. Communication disorders may affect speech (speech-sound disorder, articulation disorder, motor speech disorder, apraxia of speech), language (aphasia, expressive language disorder), pragmatics (autism, frontal head injury), fluency (stuttering), literacy (dyslexia, agraphia, alexia), cognition (dyscalculia, dementia),  or voice.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) –The official title given to professionals who are trained to evaluate and treat communication and swallowing disorders.  The term ‘Speech-Language Pathologist’ is meant to better reflect the scope of practice of professionals commonly referred to as ‘speech therapists.’ In the US and Canada, entry-level education to qualify to be a SLP is a Master’s degree.

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