The specific aim of the Degree Course in Speech and Language Therapy (Speech Therapist qualification) is to train speech therapists, i.e. professionals who work in the healthcare sector for the prevention and rehabilitation of speech and communication disorders in childhood, adulthood and old age. The work of the speech therapist aims to educate and re-educate regarding all pathologies that cause voice, speech, oral and written language disorders and communication disabilities.
By way of example, let us consider some areas of intervention.
In the field of verbal communication, the speech therapist deals with speech disorders that may occur in childhood either as primary, isolated difficulties in language skills or associated with other pathologies (hearing, neurological, cognitive disorders, etc.). These difficulties may involve the child's comprehension of language, intelligibility of speech, fluency and communication skills.
In the field of verbal communication, in adults, it deals with acquired pathologies (e.g. aphasia, dysarthria) resulting from neurological damage that impairs the use of oral and written language, while in the geriatric age they can result from degenerative disorders.
In the school-related context, the speech therapist re-educates children and young people with learning disabilities in reading, writing and calculation. The disorders they address can also present themselves as specific difficulties, for example, in children and young people with dyslexia, dysorthography or dyscalculia. The speech therapist works alongside the patient both to rehabilitate skills and thus enable the subject to learn effectively and efficiently, and to provide him/her with tools that enable him/her to cope better with the educational/school pathway.
In terms of the voice, speech therapists deal with dysphonia and dysodia. Dysphonia is a qualitative alteration of the spoken voice of varying aetiology that can occur in children but especially in adults in professions where the voice is overused, such as teachers and those working with the public in general. They also deal with disorders of the singing voice, referred to as dysodia. For this reason, students will also address performing arts disciplines during their training.
Speech therapists also work with swallowing disorders affecting patients of all age groups, with dysphagia, dysfunctional swallowing and disorders related to orofacial muscular imbalance (OMS).
The speech therapist, with reference to the doctor's diagnosis and prescription, in addition to carrying out therapeutic activities, draws up the speech-language assessment aimed at identifying and overcoming the person's health needs, for which he/she must acquire and master the assessment tests and clinical observation techniques of communicative and linguistic behaviour. He/she will also have to train in the use of various types of aids including, for example, postural systems for people with motor disabilities, hearing aids and cochlear implants for people with hearing loss, and computer aids for communication.
The course consists of 20 examinations worth a total of 180 ECTS credits.
The degree course is nationally scheduled, with access through entrance tests.
Attendance of classes, tutorials and internships is compulsory.
An integral and qualifying part of the professional training is, in fact, the practical training activity and clinical internship (60 ECTS credits) carried out in accredited and contracted healthcare facilities, under the supervision and guidance of clinical tutors and coordinated by professors/instructors of the professionalising subjects. Over the three years, the internship will enable students to acquire the skills to perform the tasks and duties characterising the profession of speech therapist, including assessments and tests, formulating the speech-language assessment, choosing therapeutic activities and involving caregivers in achieving rehabilitation goals.