Imagine overhearing a conversation that went something like this:
“So I saw a client today with strange OAE’s and regular ABR’s, and I think he has a R-SNHL. His wife had an L MCA CVA and now is NPO and has AOS, so we are thinking of looking into AAC!”
“Wow. I saw a child today whose IPP said that she might have ASD because she has a very low MLU, so I’m thinking of doing the CSBS and trying ABA.”
To a non-speechie, listening to the above exchange might cause them to think the conversing pair were speaking another language. Reading the transcriptions of our client’s speech would confirm this, with all the strange symbols we use to encode the different phonemes of our language. Sometimes, even I get lost in “Speech Speak”!
The fact is, the Speech Language Pathology and Audiology profession is littered with acronyms. Diagnoses, treatment programs, and assessment tools are all assigned an acronym to speed up note taking, conversations about clients, and report writing. It can be a confusing experience to try to sort out what all the letters mean and what aspect of the client they refer to.
Thankfully, there are a plethora of resources available to help sort out the many acronyms and abbreviations, including this handy website I found that lists many common medical acronyms that we might stumble across while reading reports. Speechlanguage-resources.com also has a pretty good list of commonly used acronyms, although there aren’t explanations of what each mean.
Though there are hundreds of acronyms that experienced SLPs casually use in conversation with other professions (and perhaps sometimes accidentally with clients), here are a few to get you started on your journey towards speaking fluent SLP!
AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Though we haven’t yet had this class, my limited experience with this field has taught me that exploring augmentative and alternative communication can be a great way to help clients communicate using technology, which can range from low tech communication boards (papers or boards with pictures that can be looked at or pointed to to communicate a message or intent) to high tech devices that can be programmed to “speak” for the client.
L MCA CVA: left middle cerebral artery cerebrovascular accident: This is a fancy way of saying that someone has had a stroke, that is, something has happened to the middle cerebral artery, a blood source to the parts of the brain that are heavily involved in speech production.
AOS: Apraxia of Speech: Apraxia involves an issue with the motor programming component of speech, which means a person with AOS will have trouble coordinating their mouth and other articulators and, as a result, might have trouble sequencing and producing speech.
MLU: Mean length of utterance: this is a way of examining how many units of speech (either words or morphemes, the smallest unit of meaning) our clients are producing at any given point in their lives.
SNHL: Sensorineural hearing loss: This is a type of hearing loss that is caused by damage to the inner part of the ear, where receptors transform the vibration caused by sound into a neural code that is sent to the brain. When these receptors are impaired or damaged, hearing at certain frequencies can be lost or reduced.
Hopefully these explanations and the links provided help decode some of the confusing acronyms you may have read about or heard SLPs use. Just remember, sometimes SLPs assume that everyone is as passionate and knowledgeable about language and speech as they are, so don’t be afraid to stop and ask for clarification! TTFN!