The duties of a speech-language pathologist are to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent speech, fluency, language, social communication, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders. They help people overcome issues such as not being able to produce certain sounds, stuttering, failing to pay attention and having inappropriately high pitched or harsh-sounding voices.
Speech issues include not being able to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently. Additionally, problems related to one's voice and/or resonance classify as speech issues. Language disorders refer to the inability to understand others and sharing ideas and feelings. Disorders in social communication occur when a person cannot communicate for social purposes, follow the rules for conversation and adjust the content and the delivery of their speech to suit the setting and the other people around them.
Cognitive-communication disorders include failure to organizing thoughts, pay attention, remember, plan and solve problems. Swallowing disorders refer to issues in feeding and swallowing. Speech-language pathologists work with their patients to help them overcome and, if possible, prevent such disorders. They provide aural rehabilitation and alternative communication systems.
Additionally, speech-language pathologists can work in counseling and help people that are not hindered by speech and/or language disorders but want to improve their communication skills. They often work with professionals from other disciplines as well.