3. The Future of School Speech-Language Pathology

A necessary part of  our future is our history.

What’s past is prologue”  (William Shakesspeare)

Professor Judy Duchan publishes an online history of the field of communication disorders and sciences  — aka, speech correction, speech therapy, speech pathology, speech-language pathology — and remarks:

“There has been too little work in the field of speech-language pathology on the evolution and history of current practices. While nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers can go to a number of historical sources in their fields, speech-language pathologists have only a smattering of such studies. It is my hope that the information provided in this website will serve to redress this notable blind spot in historical understanding of speech-language pathologists, especially for those practicing in the United States. I aim to provide a growing body of historical information that clinicians in America can use to trace their evolution and understand the thinking of their ancestors.”


One hypothesis is that the field has run helter-skelter into the future without paying attention.  A studied relationship with American education is nil.

What foundations do school speech-language pathologist have for rapid and high impact change?  Again nil!

For example, when caseloads swell and special education children are coming in like mad, on the basis of federal mandates, they can only throw up their hands and appeal for help to the burnout gods.  They lack insight into the historical and philosophical issues making “speech therapy” difficult in an impromptu fashion.


Yes, the lack of historical perspective involved in ASHA policy is limiting.  Articles appear in the Leader without reference to past policies and lessons learned.  It suggests the management system is simply breaking down in the area of policy development.

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