Since 1927, May has been designated as Better Hearing &
Speech Month, a time to raise public awareness of
hearing, speech and language disorders.
People seldom talk about speech problems, but speech,
voice, fluency and language disorders are serious,
treatable conditions that affect more than 14 million
“Speaking comes so naturally for most of us, we take it
for granted,” said Donna Swanson-Perrelet, MA-SLP,
Speech/Language Pathologist. “But for someone with a
speech or language problem, words don’t come easily.
Expressing any thought is a struggle.”
Speech and language disorders take many forms. Babies
can be born with these disorders. Accidental injury or
illness can cause speech or language disorders at any
age. Whatever their kind or cause, these disorders have
serious consequences. They can limit one’s academic
achievement, social adjustment and career advancement.
“Fortunately, most people with speech and language
problems can be helped,” said Swanson-Perrelet. “Even if
the problem cannot be eliminated, we can teach people
with speech and language problems strategies to help
them cope. People may not fully regain their capacity to
speak and understand, but a speech-language pathologist
can help them express their needs and live more
Some common speech and language disorders include
stuttering or fluency difficulties, a widely recognized
problem characterized by repetitions of sounds, words;
articulation difficulties that cause people to pronounce
sounds incorrectly, making their speech difficult to
understand; language disorders that limit a person’s
ability to understand and use spoken and/or written
words; and finally, voice disorders that make speech
impossible or extremely difficult to understand. Aphasia
is a speech-language disorder that frequently follows a
stroke or brain injury. People with aphasia can think
clearly but cannot effectively express their thoughts.
An estimated one million Americans have aphasia.
“If you know someone who has difficulty speaking or
understanding language, urge them or help them to
consult a speech-language pathologist,” said Swanson-Perrelet.
“A communications disorder is just too important to
Speech/Language Pathologists are the professionals who
treat all types of speech, language and related
disorders. In California, they are licensed and/or
credentialed by the State Speech and Language Pathology
Board, hold a master’s degree and may be certified by
the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Speech-language Pathologists work in schools, private
practice, hospitals, clinics, colleges and other health
and educational settings.
Swanson-Perrelet is responsible for creating the
curriculum and teaching classes for Grossmont College’s
newest associate of science degree program:
Speech/Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA). SLPAs are
trained to treat speech or language disorders under the
direction of a speech/language pathologist and are
certified by the State Speech and Language Pathology
Board of California following graduation and
Swanson-Perrelet recently received the California
Speech-Language-Hearing Association District award for
outstanding achievement at the organization’s
52nd annual state convention. She was recognized for her
efforts to develop and coordinate the Grossmont College
Speech Language and Pathology Assistant Program.