Speech and language therapists treat people of all ages who suffer from communication disorders. Communication is central to human life – without it we cannot learn, form relationships, express ourselves or contribute to a working environment. There may be physical reasons for these disorders, but equally there may be social and/or emotional causes, which contribute to the disorder.

As a specialist, the speech and language therapist helps people overcome the limitations of their communication disorder, whether it be a three-year-old having difficulty learning to speak, a schoolgirl with cerebral palsy, a middle- aged stroke victim, a young man with brain damage following a road accident, an elderly sufferer of Alzheimer’s disease, or an adolescent with special needs. These are just some examples of people who could benefit from treatment. Speech and language therapists need a wide range of skills an knowledge.

They must understand what communication is, how language works and how it is learnt. For example, they study anatomy and physiology to learn how the body functions, how it develops and how it is affected by various diseases. They study psychology to enable them to understand behaviour and to help people come to terms with the social and emotional aspects of their communication disorder.

In addition, speech and language therapists need patience, understanding and a capacity to relate to people. It is not only a challenging and demanding profession but, for the right person, it is also a fulfilling and rewarding one.

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