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SLP? ABA? OT? What do they mean?

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

It’s easy to get confused by official titles that aren't clear! This month, we’re explaining some common industry terms to help you better understand the professionals involved in managing speech and language disorders.

What is a Speech Language Pathologist?

  • SLPs: Speech Language Pathologist

  • Professionals with academic and clinical training in assessment and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders

  • Education Requirements

  • Completion of a Bachelor's degree followed by two-year Masters degree in Health Science, Speech Language Pathology focus with multiple clinical placements

  • Course types: anatomy, audiology, linguistics, human development

  • Must be licensed in area of practice

  • Work settings: private practice, hospitals, clinics, rehab centres, nursing homes, schools, research, and more.

  • Roles in therapy

  • Clinical assessment and treatment of speech, language, literacy, voice, stuttering, and swallowing difficulties

  • Counselling

  • Support for client and their families

  • Source of information and resources

speech therapist

What is a Communication Disorders Assistant?

  • CDA: Communication Disorders Assistant

  • General term for multiple assistive training credentials: Communicative Disorders Assistant, Audiometric Assistant, Communication Technician

  • Works with SLPs and Audiologists to develop therapy strategies

  • Education Requirements

  • Completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, CDA certification usually with a college diploma program with clinical placements in the area of communication

  • Roles

  • Assist SLPs or Audiologists with assessment and provide direct, one-on-one treatment

For more information:

communication disorders assistant

What is an ABA Therapist?

  • ABA: Applied Behaviour Analysis

  • Therapist that assesses and improves behaviours and adaptive learning skills, commonly for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Behaviours: social skills, communication, reading, academics

  • Adaptive learning skills: dexterity, hygiene, grooming, punctuality

Education Requirements:

  • Must already be a licensed clinical therapist (college diploma program)

  • ABA is an additional certification and training process through the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BACB)

  • Employment opportunities in private or group practice, in homes, schools or clinics


  • Assess and develop treatment plan

  • Help individuals with autism with behavioural skills of daily life

What is an Occupational Therapist?

  • OT: Occupational Therapist

  • Therapists that provide assistance with things to improve a person’s ability to engage in everyday activities

  • Ex. getting dressed, cooking, going to work, social activities

Educational Requirements:

  • Completion of a Bachelor’s degree followed by a 2 year Masters degree in Science, Occupational Therapy focus with clinical placement and research

  • Course types: anatomy, ethics, mental health, assistive technologies

  • Must be licensed in area of practice

  • For Ontario: College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario

  • Can work in homes, clinics, private practices, rehab centers, nursing homes, schools etc.


  • Therapy and recommendations for individual and families

What is a Psychological Assessment?

  • Conducted by: Licensed Psychologist

  • Credentials:

  • Completion of a Bachelor's degree followed by Masters or Doctoral degree in Psychology with clinical placement or residency

  • Testing aimed to evaluate social, academic, emotional thought and behavioral processes for individuals

  • Can include full academic testing to identify emotional blocks or learning disorders that may impact learning.

child psychologist

What is a Developmental Assessment?

  • Conducted by: mainly Pediatrician or Child Psychologist

  • Credentials vary according to specific occupation but required training on how to administer a developmental assessment

  • Process of testing for children to compare their performance to others of their ag

  • Often recommended by SLPs if there any signs of atypical development, often related to signs of autism or other developmental delays.

_________________________________________________________________________________Andalusia Speech Therapy has two Toronto speech therapy clinics and offers speech teletherapy to anywhere in the world. Contact us more for information.

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