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Letter to the Editor Notes SLPs’ Training in Treatment of Swallowing Disorders

by Shelley D. Hutchins
written by
SLP checks swallowing function of patient

In a recent Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post, ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist Memorie Gosa responds to a February article in the publication’s Health & Science section about the shortcomings of treatment for dysphagia.

Gosa posits that the original article overlooked the expertise of SLPs in diagnosing and treating swallowing disorders. Dysphagia “is best managed by a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians and speech-language pathologists (SLPs),” she observes. She explains the education and training of SLPs to help clients with dysphagia.

Also of note, ASHA President Elise Davis-McFarland submitted an in-depth response to the section editor of the Washington Post outlining ASHA’s serious concerns about the portrayal of dysphagia treatment and the lack of inclusion of SLPs in the article. ASHA plans to give swallowing disorders heightened focus during Better Hearing and Speech Month, and the Post will be contacted in advance about covering that outreach.

Gosa is an assistant professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders at the University of Alabama and chair of the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. She’s conducted research on thickened liquids, pediatric dysphagia, and feeding/swallowing development in infants and children.

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In her letter, Gosa also shares links to resources for learning more about dysphasia, possible treatments, and how to find an SLP who specializes in the area.  “Awareness of and utilization of these resources by an experienced multidisciplinary team that includes SLPs will ensure that no one with dysphagia endures a lifetime of ‘horrible’ treatment,” she writes.

Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for the ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org

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