Speech-Language Pathology and Search Engines

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) began developing standards for speech-language pathologists in the early 1950s. We could conclude that speech-language pathology has been formally recognized as a distinctive field for about 65 years. Our field has borrowed and adapted from many related disciplines in our understanding of foundational information. We have been enriched through this sharing of knowledge.

We now live in a digital age where people access information electronically using a limited set of key terms for search engines that scan data for relevancy. Agencies and entities employ search engine optimization, where they use deliberate strategies to maximize the likelihood that their website will be viewed. In a time when we may believe that we have limitless access to information, forces are actually guiding what we may find.

We can free ourselves from narrow searches and remember how our field grows from contributions across disciplines. Here are just a few examples of how other fields have shaped our understanding of communication and communication disorders:

  • Child psychology: Early developing morphemes in child language development (e.g., possessive in “mommy’s shoe”) were described by child psychologist Roger Brown in the early 1970s
  • Psychology: Story grammar components (e.g., initiating event, attempt, etc.) were described by psychologists Nancy Stein and Christine Glenn in the late 1970s. And zone of proximal development for optimal learning is from psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1970s
  • Psychology and Neuroscience: Models of working memory were created by psychologists Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch in the 1970s; Nelson Cowan, and K. Anders Ericsson and Walter Kintsch the 1990s
  • Linguistics: The International Phonetic Alphabet used to classify and describe speech sounds throughout the languages of the world was created by linguistics and phoneticians in the late 1800s
  • Health Policy: The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) from the World Health Organization (WHO) was created through health planning, policy and medicine
  • Public Policy: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal educational policy for students with special needs combines fields of education, special education and public policy
  • Child and Family Studies and Counseling: The use of counseling techniques is based on work in the fields of psychology, psychiatry and child and family studies
  • Bilingual Education: Stages of typical second language acquisition, such as Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), are from curriculum, teaching and instruction researcher Jim Cummins in the 1970s. Cross-linguistic analysis, which is the comparison of linguistic features of one language to another language, is from the field of applied linguistics and bilingual education

We all search for information regularly. We can think about more than a small set of keywords. Our field has grown through the knowledge of psychology, child development, linguistics, medicine, health, public policy, education and much more. Explore outside of speech-language pathology. You may find valuable guidance that positively affects your practice, your understanding and your work with clients.

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