Pediatric speech-language pathology includes the evaluation and treatment of patients from birth to 18 years old. As such, it can require specialized skills in several differing age groups, including infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children and adolescents. Common disorders found in the pediatric population, particularly in a medical setting, include apraxia and other articulation or phonology disorders, autism, language disorders, central auditory processing disorders, and stuttering. Dysphagia is very common in a pediatric medical setting. The evaluation and treatment of children with dysphagia requires a special knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of babies and children and the usual causes of dysphagia in the pediatric population.
Because children with chronic or complex conditions have multiple medical and treatment needs, it is important for the pediatric speech-language pathologist to take an interdisciplinary approach to the care of pediatric patients.
Depending on the patient's diagnosis, functional skills, current needs, and age level, the pediatric speech-language pathologist may collaborate with any of the following professionals: physicians (particularly those noted above), nurses, social workers, dieticians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, recreation therapists, psychologists, teachers, audiologists, aural rehabilitation specialists, and others. SLPs may participate on specialized teams within the facility, such as a cleft palate or feeding team.
Speech-language pathologists often provide co-treatments with another discipline (usually occupational therapy or physical therapy) for patients with various neurological conditions. For patients who are undergoing inpatient (and often outpatient) pediatric rehabilitation, the interdisciplinary treatment team works together to develop an integrated team treatment plan.
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