What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?

Interviewed by Erika Goyer, Hand to Hold Family Support Navigator

Raising a kid with special health and developmental needs can seem daunting! Often, we come home from the NICU with a list of follow-up appointments to make, screenings to do and specialists to see. Each month Hand to Hold will talk to a different therapist, specialist or provider to learn more about them and what they do. This month we talked with Anne Boon M.S. CCC-SLP.

What is your title and what was your program of study?

Anne Boon, M.S., CCC-SLP

I am a Speech Language Pathologist.  I have an undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology.  You may see these initials after my name, M.S (Masters of Science), CCC (Certificate of Clinical Competence), SLP (Speech Language Pathologist).

What sort of licensing and certification do practitioners in your field go through?

The requirements for becoming a Speech Language Pathologist are to complete undergraduate course work in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a two year Master’s degrees in Speech Language Pathology.  After graduating with a Master’s degree you are required to sit for the Praxis exam (equivalent to a Board Exam) and required to complete a Clinical Fellow Year (9 months to a year) in order to acquire your Certificate of Clinical Competence.

What does a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) do?

A Speech Language Pathologist – also referred to as a “Speech Therapist” -provides evaluations and remediation of a variety of disorders and/or delays.  Some include:

When would a family come to see you?

A family would see a Speech Therapist if they have any concerns for their child’s development in any of the areas mentioned above. (See: Speech and Language Milestone Chart) They will generally need a referral from their Primary Care Physician or from another healthcare provider that is overseeing their child’s care.  After the referral is received an evaluation is scheduled. (See: Talking With Your Audiologist or SLP: Getting the Most from Your Visit) During the evaluation the Speech Therapist will look into the parent’s concerns and any other concerns that arise during this time.  After the evaluation the Speech Therapist will determine whether or not the child will need ongoing services.

How are these services delivered?

Services tend to be scheduled on weekly appointments.  There are many different settings in which children can receive these services:

Services are also provided while children are staying in the hospital if the medical team providing care determines the child would benefit from Speech Therapy.

Daddy feeding a premature infant

Photo credit: Haller Family

What role do the parents play in their child’s therapy?

Parents play a significant role in the whole process of Speech Therapy.  Although the Speech Therapist evaluates specific concerns, development, delays, etc. the parents ultimately know the most about their child.  Parents play a role in the evaluation, interpretation of results, and development of a treatment plan.   Speech Therapy is not successful without the involvement of the parents to carry out programs recommended at home and throughout their everyday lives.

What resources would you recommend for parents who want to find out more about your field?

I recommend checking out www.asha.org (American Speech Language and Hearing Association) for more information about Speech Language Pathologists.


Erika Goyer is the mother of three boys and a family support navigator with Hand to Hold. Two of her sons received school-based speech therapy.


  1. James Duke says:

    It hard to see your kid struggle with speaking. My son has a problem with stuttering, sadly I think he gets that from me. I don’t want to see kids make fun of him because he can’t speak well yet. I’d like to see if I can get him into a speech class. Thanks for sharing this, I’m glad there as certified people that deal with these types of classes. http://communikids.com.au/about-us/

  2. As I child, I had a speech impediment, so I know how important speech therapy is. It’s interesting to know that parents play a vital role in their child’s speech therapy. The therapist can only do so much, but the parents need to help.


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