I’m an Audiologist and Speech Language Pathologist(ASLP). I never get ‘‘I know what actually you do’’ kind of reply from people I meet. Instead I see BIG question mark on their faces. To my surprise, very few curious souls ask me in depth about what I actually do. Through this article, I try to elaborate on this. Also, this article gives an idea about what one should expect as a ASLP.
Audiology and speech therapy is a paramedical field. As its name suggests, it deals with audition (hearing) and speech.The field can be divided into two main domains but cannot be separated. Audiology is one domain where as speech language pathology is another.This field is as vast as its lengthy name 😉
What is Audiology and Audiologist?
It is the science of hearing. Its the study of nature of sound, how do we hear, and how do we understand it. Audiologist study what happens when the auditory system fails! Audiology investigates how the failure at different level in system results in different type of hearing loss. Audiologist assesses the hearing;interpret the results and guides for the appropriate treatment or management option.
Hearing is crucial from day one till death. Hence hearing loss occurring at any age has a major impact on life. Hearing loss cuts you off from the society as there is NO communication at all. Audiologists enable the impaired person to get back their ability to hear. He/she provides hearing device, auditory training and counseling to patient and family members. He/she provides best possible management option and keeps the patient updated with recent advances. Audiologist play a major role in hearing screening which helps to detect the hearing loss at early stage in life. Early detection and intervention can make use of critical period for language learning.
Along with hearing, balancing issues are also dealt by the audiologist. Audiological evaluations are of immense importance to an otolaryngologist (ENT) for taking decisions regarding treatment.
What is Speech Therapy?
Speech and language are very important in daily routine for communication. Just cant imagine the world without speech and language. Any type of disruption in these abilities may cause faulty communication.
Language can be delayed or disrupted due to various different reasons. Childhood language disorder includes hearing loss, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Global Developmental Delay (GDD), Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Solution for all the above conditions are with speech therapist.
When I focus on term speech it covers more than one aspect. It includes how clearly we speak (articulation), how fluent our speech is (fluency), and how does our speech sounds (voice). Speech therapy provides patients with strengthening exercises and support. Famous Bollywood star in Hritik Roshan has always openly spoken about how speech therapy helped him to recover from stuttering and speak fluently.
Patient who suffers from laryngeal cancer mostly undergo the removal of voice box. Speech therapy helps such patients to get his voice back using various techniques.
Speech Therapist is a ‘swallowing therapist’ as well
Though the name speech therapy does not talk anything about swallowing, yes we do work in that area also. Sometimes infant, elders or adults do get problem in swallowing. Swallowing problem may result in malnutrition or dehydration. Not only this,but there are incidences of some serious conditions like aspiration and penetration of food into wind pipe. Swallowing therapists are the speech therapists who are experienced in the area of swallowing. These professionals handle such serious conditions and help the patient to fulfill his/her needs of food.
Challenges for ASLP
Speech therapist is a member of team which deals with patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease etc. and there is much more to do once you enter the field.
ASLPs are communication therapist, dealing with process of hearing, understanding, interpreting and finally responding to what is heard. As said earlier two domains can be divided but cannot be separated being the two sides of the same coin.
The ‘academics’ of ASLP
There are number of areas to master to be a professional in this field. One should get a degree of Bachelor of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology and higher education. If we compare to the number of institutes offering engineering and other professional courses, very limited institutes offer courses in Audiology and speech therapy. There are only 3 institutions in Maharashtra till now. To secure the seat one needs to opt science for 10+2 and should appear the required entrance exams. The degree course is of 3 years of academics and 1 year of internship.
The future for ASLP
Hard work in this field will never disappoint you. You will receive sweet fruits and satisfaction to serve the society and needy. Actually there is dearth of audiologists and speech language pathologist in India. This fact secures the job in future. ASLPs can work in hospital set up; school set up, multi-specialty set up, teaching institutions or can have their own clinic and also can fly to abroad.
Field of audiology and speech therapy is relatively new and developing too. Many topics are yet to be explored in detail and hence gives lots of scope to do research. At the same time, it’s challenging keeping oneself updated with upcoming techniques and technologies.
](https://www.facebook.com/madhura.bhalerao)Choosing this field as a career option was a wise decision for me.Jobs are already knocking my door before completing my post-graduation. It is really an interesting field for those who love to communicate, to understand the difficulties faced by patients and to treat them. Ability to communicate, patience and creativity is a triad of qualities essential to be a successful ASLP._
Choosing a Career after HSC is little panicky and confusing situations for students and parents. Choosing a career where your true interest lies is the best decision you can ever make. But before making decision you should have good knowledge about all the options in front of you. It’s always better to consider all the positives and negatives about the decision for your career. Wishing you all the very best!