As you begin to seek speech therapy services, you will realize that there is a whole new language to be learned. Every profession has its own jargon, and SLPs are no different.

This list is not comprehensive but will help you begin to learn these new speech therapy terms. And remember that your SLP is on your team and is there for you and your child. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for definitions of unfamiliar terms. 

Speech and Language Pathologist: Also known as a speech therapist, speech teacher, or SLP. An SLP is a trained and licensed professional who evaluates and treats communication and swallowing disorders. 

Apraxia: A motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for a person to accurately produce speech sounds.

Articulation: Speech sound production; how you produce sounds and combine those sounds into words. 

Audiologist: A healthcare professional trained to evaluate/diagnose and treat hearing loss and related disorders, including balance problems. 

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): Any approach designed to support, enhance, or supplement communication. AAC may include sign language, the use of picture symbols, or speech-generating devices.

CF/Clinical Fellow: A CF or Clinical Fellow is an SLP who has recently graduated and is at the start of their career. CFs are licensed and during the ~9 month mentored experience following graduation. They work under the direct supervision of an SLP. 

COTA: A COTA is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. A COTA works directly under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist. 

Developmental Disfluency: Similar to stuttering, but part of typical development and resolves on its own, without intervention. Typically seen in younger children, often before or accompanying a burst in language development. 

Dysphagia: Difficulty or discomfort in swallowing. 

Dysphasia: A language disorder as a result of brain injury, disease or damage. Dysphasia is marked by deficiency in generating speech, as well as sometimes comprehension. 

Early Intervention (EI): Generally refers to services provided from ages birth to three. In some instances, EI may also refer to services up until school-age.

Echolalia: Immediate or delayed vocal imitation of another speaker; often includes repetition of whole phrases. 

Expressive language: Language expression or output. This includes words, word approximations, babbling in infancy, use of phrases and sentences, etc. 

ICD-10: ICD-10 codes are alphanumeric codes used by healthcare providers to represent diagnoses.  If your child receives services funded by your insurance provider, ICD-10 codes may appear on evaluations, authorizations or paperwork related to your child’s service. An SLP will determine the appropriate ICD-10 based on their evaluation. 

IEP: Individualized Educational Plan. This document is generated if your child is evaluated in the school district to receive special education services.

Intelligibility: How much other people understand what you say. Typically rated as what percentage of your speech is understood by unfamiliar listeners. 

Nonverbal Language: Means of communication other than verbal expression. Examples include the intonation of your voice, your facial expressions, your body language, and your proximity to another person while speaking. 

Occupational Therapy/Occupational Therapist (OT): An occupational therapist is a trained and licensed healthcare professional. An OT provides evaluations and therapy to promote independence, activities of daily living, and fine motor skills. OTs and SLPs often work together through co-treats or professional collaboration. 

Physical Therapy/Physical Therapist (PT): A physical therapist is a trained and licensed healthcare professional. A PT has experience in diagnosing physical abnormalities, restoring and maintaining physical function and mobility, and promoting physical activity and proper function. PTs, OTs and SLPs often work together through co-treats or professional collaboration. 

Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA): A physical therapy assistant provides physical therapy services under the direct supervision of a physical therapist. 

Pragmatic language/pragmatics: Social language/the use of language in a social context. This includes what we say and how we say it. Both verbal and non-verbal language such as body language and facial expressions. 

Receptive language: Understanding or comprehension of language. This can include comprehension of directions, understanding of vocabulary, comprehension of conversation, etc. 

SLPA: Speech and language pathology assistant. In California, an SLPA is a licensed professional who provides therapy under the supervision and license of an SLP. SLPAs do not conduct evaluations and their role varies by state. 

Stuttering: Involuntary repetition of parts of words or whole words. 

As you encounter new terminology remember that you have a team of people who want to help you and your child. SLPs and other professionals can help you navigate these new experiences. Do not be afraid to ask (and ask again!) if you hear a word, phrase, or acronym that you don’t understand.

Cocoa Berry
Author: Cocoa Berry