Speech Pathology services are offered to children, aged 0-15 years, in the areas of:
Articulation is the ability to coordinate our teeth, tongue, lips and voice box so that we can produce clear and distinct sounds for the accurate formation of speech that can be understood by others.
Adequate speech sound skills are important for expressing basic wants and needs and thereby minimising frustration or behavioural consequences, engaging in conversations, literacy gains (being able to read and spell individual sounds), effectively socialising and using language with peers.
Comprehension (Receptive Language)
Receptive language is the ability to understand a conveyed message based on the vocabulary used (the range of words), concepts used (e.g. before/after, in/on/under, size and attributes, colours, numbers, sequences), any accompanying visual prompts such as signs or symbols, and any accompanying sounds such as a bell ringing.
Language comprehension is important for being able to accurately follow directions, understand questions, and being able to understand the sequence of an event/story/experience.
Oral language (Expressive language)
Expressive language skills refer to the ability to accurately convey a message with the use of a range of words, and grammatical accuracy. Expressive language skills are important for expressing basic wants and needs, using age appropriate vocabulary and concepts to effectively participate in social, home and academic contexts, answer questions appropriately and accurately, retell the events of a story or experience.
Communication & Social Skills (Pragmatics)
Pragmatic skills are what enable individuals to know what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to. It is the ability to use language for a range of purposes and to adapt this based on the context or situation. Pragmatic skills include:
- Using language for a range of purposes, such as greeting, informing, demanding, promising, requesting)
- Modifying language based on the social context or situation, and the needs of the listener. For example, speaking differently to a child than you would to an adult, providing adequate background information for the listener but not too much that it is boring or repetitive,
- Following Conversational Rituals, such as taking turns, introducing topics, maintaining topic, repeating oneself if misunderstood, being receptive to subtle nonverbal messages and appropriately using nonverbal messages, such as eye contact, gesture, tone of voice, facial expression.
Appropriate Pragmatic and social skills are important for making and maintaining peer relationships, and working well in group tasks in a variety of contexts.
Literacy refers to the ability to read and write. This enables people to communicate, interact and learn about the world through various media. It means that people can understand and follow written instructions, find out information online or in books, write letters and emails, and send text messages. It also means that a child or adult is able to participate fully in their education and learning.
Not being able to read and write at adequate levels means that the young person is at risk of having limited opportunities in life or being unemployed. Research has also shown they may be at risk of social issues such as being imprisoned for breaking the law. About 10% of school children have problems with reading and writing.
As the experts in supporting children with communication difficulties, speech pathologists are a useful part of any literacy team.
Fluency refers to the ability to produce a smooth flow of speech of sounds, words and phrases without any involuntary interrupting behaviours that are characteristic of stuttering.
Interruptions can be in the way of:
- Repetition of sounds (b-b-aby), syllables (mu-mum-mummy), words (my-my-my) or phrases (I went-I went-I went).
- Prolongations, where sounds or parts of the word are stretched out (I liiiiiiiike).
- Blocks are often silent and are seen when it looks like the person is stuck, trying to speak with no sound coming out.
There are often secondary behaviours which accompany stuttering. These may be verbal and include grunts, small non-speech sounds, filler words (um/er) or pauses. They can also be non-verbal like grimacing, blinking or body movements.