What’s the Difference Between an Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist?

What’s the Difference Between an Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist?


What’s the Difference Between an Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist?

An audiologist is a medical professional involved in diagnosing and treating problems associated with hearing and balance. These include noise sensitivity, vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus. If the diagnosed condition can be treated by a doctor, an audiologist may recommend seeing an ENT expert. (To understand better, read about hearing specialist vs audiologist below.) Else, the audiologist will explore other treatment alternatives like aural rehabilitation (diagnosing various kinds of hearing loss and assessing their treatment methods) and hearing aids (devices fitted in the ears to improve hearing abilities).

Know about hearing specialists vs audiologists? Unlike audiologists, hearing specialists or ENT specialists offer diagnosis and medical and surgical care of the ear, nose and throat.

If you suffer from hearing issues, visit an audiologist in Delhi with extensive experience.

Who is a speech-language pathologist?

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help control and overcome problems of the tongue, throat and/or mouth that affect a person’s communication. Such a specialist can help manage symptoms of speech disorders like stuttering/stammering (or other fluency disorders), apraxia, autism (or other receptive disorders), dyslexia, articulation issues, resonance problems (like swollen tonsils or cleft palate), expressive disorders, voice problems and auditory processing disorder. The expert can help you with communication difficulties by carrying out articulation therapy, language activities and, sometimes, even feeding and swallowing therapy.

If you go through communication problems, visit a highly experienced speech pathologist in Delhi.

| Also Read: What is Stuttering? - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment |

Why is hearing important for speech and language development?

So that your brain can learn new sounds or words, you need to hear them first. People may sometimes develop various degrees of hearing loss. This affects the way and extent of their abilities to hear and comprehend speech and language. The levels of hearing loss include:

  • Mild: With mild hearing loss, people may have difficulty listening in a noisy environment. They might fail to hear or understand certain speech sounds.
  • Moderate: People with moderate hearing loss can only understand speech when they see the face of the speaker.
  • Moderately severe to severe: Affected people usually miss most or whole of speech even if they can see the speaker speaking. They may fail to hear any voice unless the speech is too loud.
  • Acute: With profound hearing loss, one may fail to hear the loudest of sounds. Such kids may primarily respond to vibrations (felt through the skin) and sight.

The higher the level of hearing loss, the greater is the risk to go through delays in the development of speech, language and reading skills.

Similarities between audiologists and speech-language pathologists

Since both audiologists and speech-language pathologists are medical experts in the treatment of communication issues, they share some common features in their skills and knowledge backgrounds. Both must possess empathy, compassion, patience and strong interpersonal abilities. Both kinds of specialists should spend time and efforts working one-on-one with their patients going through communication troubles and likely, discouraged and frustrated as a result. Both types of experts must also carry advanced degrees, professional certifications, high experience, knowledge and skills in their respective fields of study and treatment.

Differences between audiologists and speech-language pathologists

Although they share certain similarities, audiologists and speech-language pathologists also differ in various respects as follows:

Treatment areas

While both speech therapists and audiologists help people with communication, they focus on separate areas of a person’s body. Speech therapists deal with broader aspects. Their analysis and treatment areas usually involve nearly any part of an individual’s body above the neck. These include the throat, mouth, tongue, eyes and even ears. On the other hand, the focus of audiologists is constricted. Areas of their analysis and treatment are restricted to a person’s ears and auditory canal.

Speech-language pathologists usually have the following areas of specialisation:

  • Fluency Disorders
  • Articulation Disorders
  • Language Problems
  • Voice Problems
  • Feeding and swallowing issues

Clinical audiologists generally have the following areas of expertise:

  • Cochlear Implants
  • Balance
  • Geriatrics
  • Tinnitus

Degrees of specialization

A vital difference between the two kinds of experts concerning their degrees of expertise is that:

  • An SLP can practice speech therapy with a master’s degree.
  • An audiologist requires a doctoral degree to practice in his field.

Sometimes, professionals qualified and experienced in both the fields, provide audiology and speech therapy to their patients.

Audiologist vs speech-language pathologist: Who is right for you?

Both the specialists help children and grown-ups who struggle with communication in their daily lives. The type of expert right for you depends on your specific communication problem.

If you have trouble hearing and understanding sounds and words, you must visit an audiologist. He/she will perform a diagnosis to check for any of the following hearing problems in you:

  • Hearing loss (hearing inability)
  • Tinnitus (hearing whirling and buzzes even in the absence of an external source of sound)
  • Infections (especially, in the middle and inner ears)s
  • Wax accumulation (blocking sound to enter the auditory canal)
  • Balance issues (disequilibrium associated with the brain)

If you have difficulty articulating or speaking, you must visit a speech therapy specialist in Delhi. He/she will carry out a diagnosis to check for any of the following concerns in you:

  • Fluency problems like stammering
  • Receptive problems like autism
  • Articulation disorders
  • Apraxia (trouble making appropriate speech movements)
  • Dyslexia (a reading and learning problem)
  • Voice problems

Sometimes you may need to visit experts offering both audiology and speech therapy for issues like auditory processing disorder.

How do audiologists and speech pathologists work together to support children with hearing loss?

The essential role of an audiologist is to help his/her patients and their family on their path to successful communication by:

  • Carrying out a hearing test to check for the presence of hearing loss and, in that case, the extent of the condition and the area(s) of the ear(s) associated with the disability
  • Assisting patients and their family members to know the various ways the victims of hearing loss can communicate (such as total communication, American Sign Language, spoken language and more)
  • Working with the patient’s family members to opt for the best hearing device to allow communication
  • Programming hearing aids to provide the patient with the ability to hear new sounds and words so that his/her brain can learn to articulate and speak them

The main role of a speech therapist in Indirapuram is also to assist patients and their family on their way to effective communication by:

Helping children and their family realise how hearing loss can affect the patients’ abilities to learn communication in various settings including home vs school, and noisy vs quiet environments

Teaching parents how to help the child learn to listen and speak by:

  • Performing listening evaluations to see if the kid’s hearing aids are working
  • Helping the patient learn to listen with his/her hearing aid(s)
  • Helping the kid produce his/her speech sounds rightly
  • Assisting the patient to learn to comprehend and use language
  • Helping the child learn the necessary skills of reading

Take away

The audiologists and speech pathologists in Tarang Clinics work with each other to track the patients’ progress and adjust their hearing aids or speech therapy best suiting their requirements of reception and communication. If needed, visit them to receive the best audio and speech therapy in Delhi.