Our experienced team offer:
Intervention and ongoing therapy
Why is it important to see a Speech Pathologist?
Communication difficulties are the most common type of developmental delay in children.
1 out of 5 children will learn to talk later than other children of the same age
50% of those children who are late talkers continue to have communication difficulties as they grow up. These difficulties can lead to:
- behavioural and/or mental health problems
- learning difficulties at school
- problems with social and/or professional life
Early identification and treatment of problems in a child’s development of speech, language or communication is important, to avoid these kinds of long term difficulties and lead to more favourable outcomes. There is robust evidence supporting the positive effects of early speech pathology intervention for children with communication disorders.
Speech Pathologists are specialised professionals who have a key role in helping children to develop their ability to understand others, express themselves and to connect socially.
What do Paediatric Speech Pathologists do?
Paediatric Speech Pathologists assess and treat communication and feeding difficulties in children. They apply a deep understanding of the stages of child development, to support progress and growth in children whose skills are delayed.
Paediatric Speech Pathologists are able to help:
- Children with speech sound issues (unclear speech, which can be due to a number of different causes and can vary from mild to severe)
- Children who have difficulty understanding what is said to them or difficulty expressing themselves with spoken language
- Children who have reduced social communication skills and find it difficult to participate in everyday interactions with other people, in a way that would be expected for a child of their age.
Speech Pathologists use assessment to evaluate and diagnose specific communication difficulties. Assessment always happens at the start of a period of intervention/ therapy, and is often also done at regular points during intervention to measure a child’s progress or to help to re-focus treatment goals.
Assessment may be done formally, using a standardised tool such as a language test, or alternatively a language checklist that is completed together with a parent/carer or educator. Standardised assessment tools allow a child’s communication development to be compared with that of typically developing children of the same age. This can highlight areas where a child is needing to grow their skills.
When using informal assessments, Speech Pathologists make observations of a child and how they function as communicators. These observations also provide important information when evaluating a child’s development.
Speech pathology intervention (a.k.a speech therapy) for children, usually involves regular sessions in which a Speech Pathologist uses play-based activities to help your child to develop and practise new communication skills such as:
- Using new speech sounds in words and sentences
- Learning to understand new gestures, words, grammar or even symbols.
- Using new gestures/signs/symbols, words, sentences or questions, to express
- Learning to look at other people and participate in shared interactions with them.
Speech Pathologists use a combination of therapy approaches and activities that:
- Have research evidence to show that they work
- Relate to individualised treatment/ development goals for each specific child
- Make learning enjoyable and motivating for your child, to help them maintain their attention and engagement, and promote their development.
Speech Pathologists collaborate with a child’s parents/carers and other professionals to create relevant treatment goals that can be incorporated in the child’s daily routines.
Speech pathology intervention (therapy), can improve a child’s ability to communicate successfully with other children and with adults, in their family and the wider community:
- Once a child’s speech is clearer, they can be better understood by others and therefore have more successful interactions.
- If a child’s understanding and use of language improves, they will be more able to follow instructions, learn from others and participate in play and conversations.
- Stronger social communication skills enable children to engage better with others, and to be a part of what people are doing around them (social integration).
All of these improvements in communication skills can support the growth of a child’s confidence. They also provide a strong foundation for learning to read and write (literacy development) as a child moves towards primary school.
What can I do as a parent?
Parents/ Carers have an important role in supporting the speech, language and social communication development of children. Some things you can do at home to help your child include:
- In everyday routines with your child, talk about what you are doing, using simple language.
- Put time aside to play with your child, letting them take the lead and you follow. You can also show them new ways of playing.
- When you’re out and about, talk about what you see and where you’re going to go. Remember to keep your talking simple so they can understand.
- Sing songs with actions and get down to your child’s level to share the enjoyment with them.
- Look at books together, explaining what’s happening in the story simply for your child – you don’t have to read all the words.
If your child is seeing a speech pathologist:
- Try to ensure that you observe and participate in therapy sessions. You’ll get best value for money this way, as it will allow you to see exactly how the speech pathologist supports your child.
- Ask the speech pathologist for ideas about how to practise with your child at home during daily routines. Practising at home with your child is really important, to reinforce what they have learned in therapy.
- Ensure that there is regular communication between the different professionals supporting your child and family, including therapists, educators and even doctors.
(At Sydney Child Development Specialists, our therapists and paediatricians have regular opportunities to catch up about our clients’ progress)
If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and language development, it’s important to seek professional help. It is better to not to take a “wait and see” approach.
Who can I speak to about my concerns?
- A Speech Pathologist who specializes in working with young children
- Your child’s educators at childcare/ preschool.
- A Child and Family Health Nurse at your local Early Childhood Health Centre (link)
- Your GP