Q: Who can refer for an assessment?
A: Referrals are accepted from:
- General Practitioners/Paediatricians
- Daycare, Kindergarten and School Teachers
- Other professionals and community health organisations
Q: What do I need to bring to the first session?
A: Any previous reports from other health professionals, including hearing tests and/or previous speech pathology assessments.
Referral letter (if you have one)
If you are coming to the clinic for a swallow or feeding assessment, please bring information regarding your diet. For children’s feeding assessments, please bring foods and drink for your child.
Q: What can I expect at the initial speech therapy session?
A: The initial assessment session usually takes up to one hour. The structure of the session will depend on the reason for the referral, age of the client and goal of assessment. For all ages, the speech pathologist will spend time getting to know the client and finding out more by doing a detailed case history. For children the speech pathologist will spend a lot of time with the child assessing (informally or formally) all areas of speech, language and communication usually through play based and/or structured activities. After this, the speech pathologist will talk with parent/s about their findings. For all clients, the speech pathologist will devise individual and functional therapy goals with you.
Q: What does a swallowing assessment look like?
A: A swallowing assessment will usually include a case history and the speech pathologist assessing the muscles of your face and mouth. Followed by an observation of you eating and or drinking particular foods (the speech pathologist will guide this). Food/Drink modifications can be suggested if needed along with strategies to minimise difficulties and maximise nutritional intake.
Q: How many speech therapy sessions will we need?
A: It depends on many factors, such as:
- How many areas of speech, language and swallowing there are to address.
- How motivated the client is to carry out therapy activities
- How often you attend therapy sessions
- How often you are able to carry out homework activities (recommend around 10-15 minutes each day).
Q: Is there a difference between speech, language and communication?
A: Yes there is a big difference and knowing these differences will be very helpful. A very simple way to look at it is this:
Speech includes the sounds that we use to make words like /b/, /t/, /l/.
Language includes the words and sentences we use to speak. Also how we use language socially.
Communication includes all ways of expressing and understanding a message. This can be with our words but also our expression and body language. It can be with gesture, sign or pictures.
Children may have difficulties with one or all of these areas.
For adults who have an acquired brain injury (Stroke, head injury) or neurological changes from disease (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease or Dementia) can have difficulties in one or all of these areas.
Q: How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?
A: A qualified speech and language pathologist can assess your child based on their age and should be able to give you some feedback at the end of your initial assessment session.
Q: What are important communication, speech and language milestones for young children?
A: Children learn an incredible amount of words in the first three years of life, so much more than we could learn as adults in such a small amount of time!
See our list of children’s general milestones
Q: Will my child grow out of their speech and/or language delay?
A: Some children can ‘grow out’ of a speech/language delay; however the majority of speech/language delays require the help and support of a speech pathologist.
The “wait-and-see” approach to children who are late talkers is a common misconception about typical language development. “All children develop at their own pace” is another common phrase parents hear that is another misconception to explain a child’s delayed development. Often children do develop at their own pace to some extent; however, we know that there are certain milestones which should be reached by a specific age. When they are not reached, this becomes cause for concern. While some children seem to catch up on their own, others do not. Therefore, it’s very important to see a speech and language pathologist if you are concerned, as research shows early intervention is highly beneficial for any speech/language delay. By starting earlier the more likely the child will feel supported, build strong social skills and will have emotional stability.
Q: Should I see a speech and language pathologist before my child starts school or wait until they start school?
A: Yes, if you suspect your child may be delayed before they start school, then it is likely that they will continue to be delayed at school. A Speech pathologist can support your child’s speech and language development correctly and more efficiently than school alone. Research shows that early intervention is the best option.
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