Speech Therapist Career Information
What a Speech Therapist does
There are some people who, due to various reasons, are unable to use both their hearing and speaking abilities, either fully and/or partially. Earlier such people had to go on with life with little or no help. But now modern science has many solutions to offer them. And these solutions are offered via the medium of a speech therapist and audiologists who help in bridging the gap between the fortunate and the less fortunate.
Speech disorder may manifest itself in various forms - delayed speech during childhood, stammering, speech disorders due to injuries or congenital defects like cerebral palsy, cleft palate and so on. Many a time, speech disorders are accompanied by hearing disorders and vice versa. If you wish to become a speech therapist, you need to know these facts.
Speech and auditory disorders can be the outcome of autism, emotional problems, childhood schizophrenia or other ailments.
While language and speech therapist assists people who have a speech or language disorder, an audiologist deals with patients who have hearing problems.
A language and speech therapist treats difficulties with speech, language, cognition (thought processes), voice, fluency or swallowing.
A speech therapist also does voice evaluation, aphasia therapy, accent modification, stuttering therapy, etc.
A speech therapist teaches sign language to people who are totally incapable of speech, improves diction and articulation of those who stammer and teaches lip reading to those hard of hearing.
Learning these skills would enable better communication and thus improve the quality of life for the challenged.
Speech therapists and audiologists find employment in:
Speech therapists and audiologists are employed in hospitals, speech therapy clinics, rehabilitation centre and schools for spastics, counselling centre and cancer rehabilitation centre. They work as linguistics also.
Speech therapists and audiologists are often part of a team consisting of specialists like neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and the like. They often take off from where the doctors stop.
And at other times medical treatment goes hand in hand with therapy. Speech therapists may also have private practices once their credentials are established and when they have had a few years of experience.
In the hospital rehab setting, working with a team of other health professionals - physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses - helps to reinforce each other's work.
Career Prospects for a Speech therapists and audiologists are:
This occupation is one of the fastest growing health professions. In recent years, the role of speech therapists and audiologists has received a lot of attention. These professionals, devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of hearing problems and speech impairments have been able to make a significant difference in the lives of people with speech and hearing defects.
Factors such as an increase in age-related illnesses affecting speech such as strokes, and a need to rehabilitate people with head injuries, all increases the demand for speech language therapists.
An influx of technology in this occupation such as X-ray technology for swallowing disorders, computerised speaking devices and voice amplifiers increases the need for therapists because it is they who help design personal devices, as well as deciding the appropriateness of using mechanical aids for patients.
There's now more awareness of rehabilitation, and there is more evidence to show the effectiveness of speech therapy.
Abilities & Traits Required
Working as a speech therapist and audiologist would require immense dedication, hard work, dollops of patience and the willingness to put in long hours at a stretch, when the need arises.
Speech therapists and audiologists work with patients of all ages. Adapting to the needs of patients from different age groups requires tremendous patience and understanding.
Clarity of verbal language, diction and tone are important to the profession of a speech therapist.
A speech therapist should have the ability to plan, coordinate, keep records, and monitor progress is required.
A scientific bent of mind and the power of reasoning and observation are needed to be a speech therapist.
Speech therapists need to have good communication and administration skills.
Speech therapists also need to have teaching, planning and research skills, and skill in diagnosing speech, language and swallowing problems.
The knowledge of a speech therapist is constantly being challenged because no two patients are ever the same. So Speech therapists have to decide on the most appropriate treatment for each person.
Speech therapists need to be patient and supportive, as well as friendly and creative. Speech therapists need to enjoy spending time with people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles.
Speech therapists also need to be practical and able to make good judgement.
Science students can opt for PCB in class XII followed by BSc Speech Therapy and Audiology, and then post graduation in the subject.
One may look forward to an earning of anything between Rs 8000-10000 per month in the beginning of one's career. For an experienced therapist, earning potential can be anything between Rs 45000-55000 per month.