How to know your treatment outcomes in speech therapy: Quack vs Professional therapist
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), better known as speech therapists, aim to provide better speech and communication to people having speech or language disorders. A professional SLP would ensure that you have the best outcomes and show positive improvements. The role of an ideal speech therapist is to assess, identify, diagnose, evaluate and treat speech, language and other communication problems of both children and adults. Besides, an SLP is also qualified to treat swallowing disorders (dysphagia), voice disorders (dysphonia), cognitive-communication, social communication, to enhance the overall speech and language of an individual.
In a world full of frauds and duplicate identities, beware of falling prey to a fake speech therapist, who can ruin your or your child’s life! Alternative medicine/medical treatment can be injurious to health and can deteriorate your child‘s/close one’s speech. Do not be misguided and know the signs of a professional and genuine SLP for getting the best outcomes.
Make sure to consult a genuine SLP who would render quality services for enhanced outcomes. By quality, we mean the usage of effective treatment procedures aimed at bettering one’s communication. Moreover, a professional speech therapist would be skilled in using the latest resources and act towards meeting the unique needs of the person with speech difficulty.
How to Identify Quacks?
You can easily differentiate between quackery and professional speech therapists. Here are some signs of quacks that the parent/caregiver of the individual suffering from speech disorders must keep in mind.
- Qualification: Beware of unethical practices of speech therapy. The minimum qualification for a Speech Therapist is Bachelor in Speech-Language Pathology. However, always go for the one with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
- Display of personal details: A genuine SLP would have their college mentioned along with the University, and not just the latter. Moreover, he/she will tell you about his/her degrees/training with confidence, and also mention any higher qualifications like PhD. Quacks will never be confident in displaying their degree in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiologist. They might even be scared to show their profile pictures on any social media or online portal.
- Past successful cases treated: Quacks would also not discuss their past clients or whether they have shown any signs of improvement. A professional SLP would record, discuss about their past clients, what their problems were and how long did they take to show positive outcomes, thus proving that their therapy sessions are genuine and effective.
- RCI registration: An ideal Speech-Language Pathologist would be registered with the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), and not by any other unrecognised medical council.
- Usage of adequate resources: Only a professional SLP would know how to use the resources available correctly. A quack would not know how to use them and hence, would hesitate to talk about their methodologies.
- Methodical treatment: An ideal speech therapist would screen, evaluate and assess the communication disorders of both children and adults. Also, they would know exactly how to plan and implement the treatment methods, and also to monitor intervention. Moreover, a skilled and trained SLP would address different speech disorders differently – a quack won’t know how to treat them separately, and they are most likely to use the same procedures for every problem.
- Going to the root of the problem: A professional speech therapist would ask you as many questions as possible to get hold of the root of the problem. A quack, on the other hand, won’t go deeper into many details, and would instead start treating right away – simply because he/she has the habit of applying the same assessment and treatment methods for any kind of speech problem. Some quacks would even go to the extent of saying that they can offer 100% cure for stammering issues. The fact is there isn’t really a 100% cure for any stuttering problem. As per the reports of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), based on 100+ studies made on stuttering adults, the results showed that only in 60% to 80% of the cases do significant improvements occur. It depends upon the underlying cause and the intensity of the disorder.
- Analysing underlying causes: A quack won’t try to analyse the underlying cause of any speech disorder and hence, would provide only superficial and maybe short-term solutions, which would tend to grow worse with days. However, a genuine speech therapist would try to assess and analyse the factors that are affecting one’s speech and/or language and monitor the treatment and intervention methods to maximise the outcomes.
- Preventive measures: A speech therapist would talk about preventive measures to avoid various speech disorders. A quack won’t, because they are here solely to loot you of your money and not provide any helpful suggestions.
- In-depth treatment: An ideal speech therapist would ask you to join a scientific and methodical therapy session, which can last for days or even months, depending upon the type of problem. A fake speech therapist might do away with providing short-term therapy sessions, even for grave speech disorders, which might need extensive care for longer periods.
- Explanation of terminologies and discussing outcome expectations: A quack would not explain terminologies or discuss the outcomes that you can expect at each stage of the speech therapy program. A qualified speech therapist would not only explain to you every terminology and treatment outcomes in detail, but would also follow-up on how you are progressing at every stage of the therapy session.
- Discussion with caregivers/parents: A responsible SLP would have counselling sessions with families, parents or teachers of the person suffering from speech disorders, and talk to them regarding the outcomes they can expect. Also, real SLPs would discuss the role the caregivers have in order to help an individual improve faster. Some of the therapy sessions will even be conducted in their presence. A quack would avoid any communication with parents or caregivers of the person having speech problems.
- Online speech therapy at home: A speech therapist would provide online speech therapy sessions and help to improve outcomes, even when geographical locations don’t matter. A quack would not have the required skills to handle patients online.
So before you visit a Speech-Language Pathologist, do your homework well and make sure to identify the best professional for addressing your or your child’s speech impairment. Search online and look for genuine reviews, online portals, social media profiles, etc., before visiting any SLP. Also, don’t confuse a professional Speech-Language Pathologist with a Speech and Hearing Technician, which exists in India. The latter is a group of people who have done a 1-year DHLS Certificate course (Diploma Course in Hearing, Language and Speech).
These course was started by RCI so that they can assist BASLP or MASLP professional as our country lacks in production of speech language pathologist. In a year only 1000 Speech Pathologists are coming out from different Universities, out of that 50% people go abroad.
What Can I Expect from a Professional Speech-Language Pathologist?
Now that you are aware of the key signs that help to identify a professional and genuine Speech-Language Pathologist, we will head on towards discussing the qualities that a true SLP has. Read on to make the best decision for yourself/your child/loved ones –
- Compassion: SLPs are compassionate and empathise with their patients. This arises from their strong desire to genuinely help a person with speech disorders speak better and live a better quality of life.
- Enthusiasm: Speech therapists help to motivate their patients and make them develop a strong will to improve.
- Creativity: A speech therapist would use innovative exercises to treat patients with unique speech disorders and needs.
- Resourcefulness: SLPs update themselves and their knowledge and skills to bring innovations in their therapy session, to keep up with the growing needs of the modern individual. Apart from reading books, they go through the latest resources over the internet, including articles, videos, etc., to gain knowledge and advice from the experts. SLPs even attend conferences or seminars to widen their knowledge base.
- Adaptability: Speech therapists are trained and have the capability to evaluate any case of speech disorder, diagnose it, analyse the factors causing it, and finally treat the problem. They can address communication problems for both children and adults.
- Persistence: Speech-Language Pathologists work persistently to enhance the outcomes of a particular patient genuinely and do not rest until they have successfully improved his/her quality of life. They would not give up in any case, even while dealing with the most complex speech disorders.
- Proactive approach: Speech therapists examine and determine the nature, extent and severity of the problem and identify the causes responsible for it. Accordingly, they will analyse which would be the best treatment course to follow in order to get the most effective outcomes.
- Versatility: A speech therapist can render services in any public or private institution, be it school, college, hospital, rehabilitation centre, research laboratory, or even in the home setting.
- Team spirit: SLPs works as a team by consulting with parents, teachers and other caregivers or family members to determine the environment the patient lives in. This helps them to strategise their treatment course tailored to the unique needs of the individual.
- Good interpersonal skills: Speech therapists possess excellent communication skills and talk with their patients amiably. They are also pleasant and friendly with the caregivers as well as other healthcare professionals. Besides, they are a very good listener and try to get an in-depth analysis of the problem.
Such qualities are the key determiners to ensure that you have made the right choice and that you can expect positive results from such a professional.