Speech pathologists are university trained to assess, diagnose and treat communication disorders.
Speech pathology services cover the whole life span from premature babies to the elderly and address an extensive range of specialised areas of communication including; speech sounds, receptive and expressive language, literacy, fluency (stuttering), voice and social skills. Speech pathologists can also assist those with eating (fussy feeders) and swallowing difficulties.
Speech pathologists can assess and address the following areas of clinical practice:
Speech sounds are the sounds we produce when we speak. We use our tongue, teeth, lips, jaw and vocal cords to make the sounds. Children develop various speech sounds at different ages and will often make age-appropriate errors. A speech sound delay is present when children continue to make errors past the expected ages.
How well words can be understood by parents
How well words can be understood by unfamiliar people
Flipsen, P., Jr. (2006). Measuring the intelligibility of conversational speech in children. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics. 20(4), 202-312.
McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Available from: https://ajslp.pubs.asha.org/article.asxp?articleid=2701897
Your child may have difficulties with receptive language if they; have trouble following instructions, have difficulty answering questions (responds with unusual answers or repeats your question), have difficulty comprehending stories, struggle to pay attention or become easily frustrated.
Receptive language difficulties within the preschool/school environment can greatly impact on a child’s ability to fully access the curriculum and to interact appropriately with their peers. It can also contribute to attention difficulties as the child finds it difficult to maintain their focus on tasks they do not understand.
See the ‘Understanding’ sections of the Communication Milestones Poster from Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).
Source: Speech Pathology Australia, 2020
See the ‘Speaking’ sections of the Communication Milestones Poster from Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).
Source: Speech Pathology Australia, 2020
(reading, writing, spelling)
Johnson, K.L, & Roseman, B.A. (2003). The source for phonological awareness. East Moline, IL: Linguisystems, Inc.
Paul, R. (2007). Language disorders from infancy through adolescence: Assessment & intervention (3rd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby, Inc.
Simpson, S. & Andreassen, M. (2008). Hierarchy of phonological awareness tasks. Retrieved from http://www.phonologicalawareness.org
Fluency refers to the flow and rhythm of speech. All children experience disruptions to the flow and rhythm of their speech as they develop their language skills which is completely normal. It is when the disruptions continue to impact the flow and rhythm of their speech for a period of time or when a child finds it difficult to communicate due to the disruptions that it becomes a problem.
A speech pathologist can assess your child’s fluency and identify whether there are ongoing fluency problems. A therapy plan can then be created to address their difficulties. The speech pathologist can provide parents/carers with strategies and tips on how to identify stutters, how to address moments of stuttering, how to record the severity of the stuttering and how to provide parent-directed therapy at home between speech pathology sessions.
Play & Social Skills
A speech pathologist can assess your child’s play and/or social skills (with the assistance of parents/carers and teachers/educators) and identify any areas that require assistance. A therapy plan can then be created to address the difficulties. The speech pathologist can provide parents/carers with information regarding age-appropriate play and social skills and strategies and tips on how to best assist their child to practise their play and social skills at home/preschool/school between therapy sessions.
(quality & use)
Our voice is the sound we can hear when the vocal folds (or cords) come together and vibrate as air passes through them when we breathe out. We use our voice to speak and sing. Our voices can give information to others about our emotions, our personality and our physical and emotional health.
A speech pathologist can assess your child’s voice and identify whether any problems are present. A therapy plan can then be created to address their vocal quality. The speech pathologist can provide parents/carers with knowledge on how to keep their child’s voice healthy, vocal exercises and strategies and tips on how to best assist their child to practise using a healthy voice at home between therapy sessions.