Speech and language therapy is a relatively new field of allied health that supports a range of communication disorders (speech and language), as well as feeding and swallowing difficulties.
Speech and language therapists (SLT) are also known as speech and language pathologists (SLP), and they work with people of all ages from newborn infants, toddlers, school-aged children, adolescents, adults, the elderly, and play an important role in end of life care (palliative care).
Communication difficulties or disorders can be divided into two broad categories: speech and language. Speech is the production of the sounds that make up spoken language, and is produced using the lips, jaw, tongue, throat and larynx (voice box). Language is understanding and expression through the organised system of symbols and words to communicate meaning. This can be written, read, gestured, signed, spoken, listened to, and expressed through body language. Some people have either speech difficulties or language difficulties. However, it is possible (and more likely) to have problems with both.
Speech and language therapists are also able to use and train people in the use of augmented alternative communication (AAC) devices. These are tools that help non-verbal people to communicate, such as a communication board. They also help with social skills and can lead social groups to help children recognise and practice socially appropriate behaviours.
Speech and language therapists in Singapore are regulated by the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC), who ensure that all registered therapists provide the best quality care to their patients/clients. They are trained to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, and tailor their therapy sessions to target the specific needs of each person. They will often work alongside other allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, psychologists, doctors, and more. They also work closely with educators and families in order ensure that everyone involved with the care of the patient/client receives the necessary support.