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.
Feeding & Swallowing
Ear Health Screening
Healthy ears are necessary for the development of age-appropriate speech and language skills. A hearing loss, whether temporary or permanent, can lead to speech, language and behavioural issues. An estimated 1 in 10 children suffer from a hearing loss during their childhood. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all children should have their hearing screened prior to starting kindergarten. Hearing difficulties in adults can affect their ability to perform their job adequately and can impact upon social communication.
The Spot for Speech Pathology offer ear health and hearing screenings to those aged 4 years and over. Our screenings include the following:
- Otoscopy – viewing the outer ear, the ear canal and the tympanic membrane (ear drum) using an otoscope to check for any ear conditions such as excessive wax build-up, perforation of the ear drum or fluid in the middle ear (infection) that may be impacting upon hearing abilities. If any abnormalities are visualised a photograph can be taken which can then accompany the client to their GP and/or audiometry appointment.
- Tympanometry – the pressure of the middle ear can be tested using a tympanometer, this determines how well the ear drum moves as it responds to changes in pressure. Any atypical findings could indicate a temporary hearing loss caused by fluid in the middle ear, an ear infection, a perforated ear drum or eustachian tube dysfunction.
- Audiometry – hearing levels will be checked under three different environmental conditions; speech-in-quiet, speech-in-noise and tone-in-noise. Difficulties in one or more of these sound conditions could indicate ear infections, inner ear problems or central auditory processing disorder.
- Report – a report outlining each client’s results is included along with recommendations for further ear health assessment by a GP, further hearing assessment by an audiologist and/or further speech and language assessment by a speech pathologist if required.
Speech Pathology Australia recognises the importance of speech pathologists engaging in reflective practice and lifelong learning at every stage of their careers. Professional support facilitates this process. The association recommends that new graduate clinicians undertake a minimum of 1 hour of supervision weekly, and that speech pathologists with 2+ years of experience to undertake a minimum of 1 hour of supervision every 2-4 weeks.
Supervision sessions provide an opportunity for supervisees to reflect upon their practice, develop their clinical and professional skills, enhance their quality of work, productivity and confidence to practice (Winstanley & White, 2003).
Our director, Beck Mungoven, has over 10 years of experience working as a speech pathologist and offers clinical supervision sessions to early-career speech pathologists. Beck has worked in private practice within day-care centres, preschools, primary schools, high schools, clients’ homes as well as clinic-based practice.
Beck is passionate about continuing professional education and has completed the following training courses:
- Fundamentals of Clinical Supervision – Clinical Supervision Services
- Clinical Education in Australia – National Forum Workshop
- Sounds-Write Phonics Program
- Hanen – It Takes Two to Talk Program
- Lidcombe Program (Stuttering for children aged 6 years and under)
- Audiometry Screening and Assessment Program
- Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Therapist Training Program
- Speech Pathology in Schools – A Whole School Approach Workshop
- Preschool & Early School-age Language Assessment & Intervention Workshop
- Speech Sounds and Phonological Assessment and Intervention Workshop
- DSM-V Criteria for Autism Workshop
- Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Workshop
- The ABCs of Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) Workshop
- Key Word Signing (KWS) Workshops
- Inclusive Communication and Behaviour Support (ICABS) Workshop
Beck can support clinicians in their work with prelinguistic skills, early language development, parent-child interactions, speech sound disorders, preschool and school-aged language development, literacy intervention and stuttering.
Supervision sessions can be face-to-face or online and typically run for 50 minutes, frequency of sessions can be negotiated depending on supervisees requirements. Contact us to book your clinical supervision sessions.