The Complete A-Z of Speech Pathology

The complete A-Z of speech pathology

As SLPs, we know our A-Z’s. Heck, we know our digraphs too! This post is for all my pediatric peeps who let their mind wander one day they are supposed to be report writing and start thinking about what an A-Z of Speech Pathology might look like.

A is for aspiration, for once you learn this word, it is impossible to say that you swallowed something the wrong way. Oh no, you tell everyone that you just ‘aspirated’ through red, watery eyes and strained voice. ‘A’ is also for the alveolar ridge. The place where so many sounds are made. Are you an ‘al-vee-lar’ or an ‘al-vee-o-lar’ pronouncing SLP???

B is for the buccal cavity. Which most likely gives you flashbacks to your student days when you had to get one of those sucker things to get excess food out of a dysphagia patient’s mouth.  I don’t know about you, but I was a pediatric convert ever since that day…

C is for caseload. For a non-school based SLP, caseload refers to who you see. The population range and mix of communication disorders. For a school SLP, caseload = a number. And it’s a competition that you don’t want to win. And I know, for I think that I won the year that I first did a school stint (97!).

D is for daubers. Those great big fat things that started a dabbing frenzy amongst SLPs and have spawned thousands of dabalicious therapy resources to work our kids.

E is for the ears and hearing for it’s inextricably bound to us SLPs… “have they had their hearing checked?” becomes a repetitive phrase.

F is for phonology and phonetics. Phonetically speaking of course. ‘F’ is also for Facebook groups and fricatives. Why fricatives you ask? Because it sounds cool to say. Go on, say it if it has been a while.

G is for groups. You love them. They age you. You vow never again. They are so much fun. They are so much work. The kids get along so well. That one kid is driving everyone insane. Groups.

H is for hand sanitizer. Do I really need to elaborate?

I is for IEPs, the IPA and iPads. One the bane of your existence. One a secret ‘language’ you flaunt on your t-shirts. The other a game changer. Who knew words starting with ‘I’ had so much power?

J is for jobs. And aren’t we lucky that we can totally change our paths and do something completely different and reinvent ourselves. I’m totally guilty of job swapping to keep it real. I’ve gone from a rural-remote not for profit -to- developing country only SLP on the island role -to- a locum role for bush kids who receive intensive weekly therapy -to- working in an elementary and high school -to- private practice. Phew.

K is for kinetic sand. Which kinda seemed like a good idea as it’s a little like play dough, but let’s be honest here. Every time you pull it out, you vow never again. Little bits get stuck everywhere. The kids never keep it in the box. And yet you keep. bringing. it. back. out. It’s a fad you secretly wish goes away.

L is for linguistics. The one subject that may have started your career to be an SLP. And if you ever travel, your brain cannot switch off from analyzing morphology, syntax and vocabulary. It’s who were are, people.

M is for minimal pairs. A staple therapy choice in an SLP’s toolkit when targeting phonological processes. Now if only there were a gameshow or Jeopardy category on this topic…

N is for all things nasal. Nasal turbulence. Hyponasality. Hypernasality. Snot.

O is for oral motor. Because we all need that one controversial area in our field.

P is for Pop Up Pirate and play dough. The two resources that 99.9% of SLPs own and we’re not giving it up. Oh, and kids, keep your head away from the pirate. And no, I can’t leave out one of the holy grails of ‘P’: Pinterest. The crafting that has gone on in therapy rooms since Pinterest came about has made every SLP collect their toilet rolls and squirrel away paper plates.

Q stands for /kw/, for that is how it is forever known henceforth.

R is ‘arr’. Or ‘ahh’. It’s ‘ahh’ to me, this Australian who doesn’t have to pronounce it in final position. But I know that ‘R’ represents agony for most of my North American SLPeeps… my only answer is to come Down Under and forget that you can classify ‘r’ as -er, -or -ar and whatever the other vowel combinations are. You don’t need to know that here!  ‘R’ is also for report writing. Which I secretly enjoy. Is there anyone else???

S is for sensory bins. The one activity that SLPs might enjoy more than their students. And don’t get me started on how amazing those water beads feel!!! ‘S’ is also for speech bubbles and aren’t we thankful that they are a homeware craze because anyone working on social learning has a field day at the shops.

T is for TpT. There are two types of SLPs. Those who knew life before TpT and those who have only ever known TpT. When I said that the iPad was a game changer, I should have added TpT too.

U is for uvula, you know, that dangly thing at the back of your throat that only you know and makes you feel totally smart when you rattle it off at a trivia or quiz night, am I right?

V is for vocal folds. Admit it. You squirm a little when you see a voice videofluroscopy 😉 And how can I go past Velcro. Collectively, SLPs have probably used enough Velcro to wrap around the world at least 17 times!

W is for wing. As in ‘ring’, but it’s actually said as ‘wing’ because, like 70% of Kindergarteners glide this word. And really, wing-ring is the ultimate minimal pair.

X is for the xylophone – for if you have ever dared to incorporate instruments into your therapy session, you know that this is the most annoying and how you wish the sticks would break so you don’t have to hear it anymore.

Y is for yeyow. I mean yellow. It’s one of those words like ‘spaghetti’ and ‘hospital’ that we just know is going to be said incorrectly.

Z is for the S/Z ratios that is… (just let me check Google) “an indicator of laryngeal pathology”. Look, we know of them, we did them… but they can come few and far in between. It’s for your voice kids okay, just remember that.

Alright SLPs, I’m relying on you to comment below and say ‘Rebecca, you totally forgot to mention _______ for the letter _’ and help me make this the ultimate list that represents what we do 🙂


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  • Rebecca you totally forgot to mention Tongue Tip (or Tip of your Tongue) and Teeth for the letter T. I know I’ve said “Put the tip of your tongue between your teeth” or “The Tip of your Tongue goes on the ridge behind your upper teeth”, at least a million times!

    • I did too… I completely ignored the tongue!! I may have to go back and edit after I get some suggestions. Thanks for reminding 🙂


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