Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are the leading experts and lead on the assessment, differential diagnosis, intervention with and management of individuals with communication and/or swallowing disorders. SLTs aim to help each individual achieve their optimum level of communication. They work closely with families/carers and other professionals. SLTs have a leading role in training others to support people with communication difficulties and in developing environments which support good communication.

The role of the Speech and Language Therapist (SLT)

The Speech and Language Therapist works with children and adults who have communication and/or eating or drinking difficulties. This includes:

  • Spending time talking to families and carers to find out the specific communication needs of their family member and the impact of the communication difficulty on everyday life
  • Assessing the individual’s communication ability. This assessment may occur in a variety of settings, for example, at home, clinic or school
  • Deciding if therapy/support is appropriate at this time and discussing these decisions with the individual and his/her family
  • Where therapy/support is appropriate, working jointly with the individual and where appropriate, family and carers to devise agreed goals and discussing who is best to deliver this support
  • Working with other professionals and members of the multidisciplinary team involved in an individual’s care.
  • Introducing other modes of communication, for example, the use of objects, pictures and signing, communication aids, if appropriate
  • Providing family and carers with the skills they need to support the family member’s communication.
  • Evaluating the outcome of the intervention programme to determine if speech and language therapy has made a difference and if further therapy is required

Speech and Language Therapy support may include:

  • Advice and information
  • Training for family/carers
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Home/school programmes supporting the individual
  • Training of other professionals

For children and adults experiencing difficulties with eating, drinking or feeding (dysphagia) the SLT will support them by:

  • Carrying out a detailed assessment of his/her eating, drinking and swallowing skills at home and where appropriate other settings, for example, school/nursing home
  • Offering guidance to ensure safe eating and drinking, using appropriate strategies that promote safe and adequate nutritional support
  • Working with other members of the multidisciplinary team involved.

Who do Speech and Language therapists work with?

Speech and Language Therapists work with:

Babies and children with feeding and swallowing difficulties

Children with:

  • Mild, moderate and severe learning difficulties
  • Physical difficulties
  • Language delay
  • Developmental Language Disorders
  • Specific difficulties in producing sounds
  • Hearing impairment
  • Cleft palate
  • Stammering
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Voice disorders

Adults with:

  • Communication or eating and swallowing disorders following neurological impairments and degenerative conditions including stroke, head injury and Parkinson’s Disease
  • Head, neck or throat cancer
  • Voice problems
  • Learning difficulties
  • Stammering

Where do SLT’s work?

Speech and Language Therapy Services are provided in:

  • Community clinics
    • Hospital wards
    • Outpatient departments
    • Special schools and units
    • Adult centres
    • Nursing and residential homes
    • Day centres
    • Child development centres
    • Sure Start Schemes
    • Community Rehabilitation and Stroke Services
    • Clients’ homes


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