Communication Disorders — 2 Comments

  1. Abbey,
    Hello, and thank you so much for asking question to the professional panel. The answer you get may vary across professionals on this panel unless the clinician solely treats people who stutter, which may be a synonymous answer within the professionals on this panel as well. 🙂 As for me, I have primarily been a medical SLP during my time in this field- working in nursing homes, outpatient clinics and hospitals. I have also worked in the public school, home health and even daycare settings and have taught college-level courses in academia for about 8 years now. When I worked in the hospital I typically saw people with dysphagia for bedside swallow evaluations and every so often a cognitive or functional communication (for aphasia) evaluation in acute care even though I largely focus on and my previous research is in the area of stuttering. I also frequently did Modified Barium Swallow Studies in the radiology suite- I love doing those. Currently, however, I am no longer in the hospital setting and I have a private practice that focuses on the treatment of stuttering, but I also treat other diagnoses. Right now I see cognitive-linguistic difficulties (particularly post COVID-19 is what I am seeing the most), non-fluent or fluent receptive/expressive aphasia and stuttering within the people I currently serve.

    I did want to talk about something else as well which is identity. Within the Speech-Language Pathology world, we use the term “communication disorder” so loosely, but not everyone with a communication disorder identifies as communication disordered, meaning, the person you are serving in the therapy room doesn’t always like being called “disordered”. Communication disorders, here in the United States according to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) are exactly that, they are considered a disability. However, not all people recognize or consider themselves, even within the confines of ADA, as disabled. People who stutter sometimes may identify as a person who is disabled as they believe their stuttering keeps them from doing activities of daily living, but other individuals may not identify as disabled, and may say, “well yea, I stutter, but I don’t consider myself disabled because my stuttering doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do.” Stuttering is such an individualized entity, that when it comes to speech therapy, or really society in general, it is best to always ask a person who stutters what terms they prefer to use within their own stuttering journey. Does a person consider themselves “disabled” or not and how do they feel about that word? Does the person identify as a “person who stutters” or a “stutterer” or either one and why? Asking questions like that of a person who stutters can also help them to feel more in control of their own stuttering. 🙂 I know you didn’t ask this, but “communication disorder” made me think of that- so I just thought that I would add that in. Hopefully it was helpful to you. 🙂 Be well, and take care, and thanks again for asking this question.

  2. Hi Abbey,

    I feel you will get different answers depending on who you ask. As a professor, my clinical work is exclusively with clients who stutter. I have colleagues who work exclusively with children who have speech sound disorders and others who work across the lifespan. The beauty of our field is that you can build up your career, if you choose, to pursue your passions.

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