When most people think about Speech Pathology they probably think of someone who helps people with a stutter, a lisp or a child who may be a ‘late talker’. While that is true, our scope of practice is a whole lot broader. Speech Pathologists are highly educated professionals who have at least have a recognised bachelor or graduate entry master’s degree. In short, Speech Pathologists work with people of all ages who may have difficulty communicating.

Our Speech Pathologists at Beam Health in Newcastle specialise in working with children and young people under the age of 25 years.

What areas of communication can a Speech Pathologist help with?

Speech Pathology can assist with a very broad range of concerns such as problems with speech, voice, using and understanding language, fluency, reading, writing, eating and drinking. At Beam Health in Newcastle we support children and young people who may need support with the following:

  • Speaking e.g. putting words and sentences together. (We refer to this as expressive language skills).
  • Understanding language e.g. following instructions, understanding concepts (size, colour, time). (We refer to this as receptive language skills).
  • Understanding language e.g. following instructions, understanding concepts (size, colour, time). (We refer to this as receptive language skills).
  • Saying the correct speech sounds e.g. if you or others have trouble understanding your child they may need some extra help to learn how to say certain sounds. (We refer to this as articulation and phonology).
  • Stuttering e.g. is your child repeating sounds, words, phrases or gets “stuck” when trying to talk?
  • Social communication e.g. turn taking, talking with others, joining in play, communicating emotions. (We refer to this as pragmatic language skills).
  • Reading, writing and spelling.
  • Using other ways to communicate e.g. visuals, gesture, speech-generating devices. (We refer to this as augmentative and alternative communication).
  • We also support children and adolescence who may have a diagnosis, for example, Autism Spectrum Disorder, global developmental delay or foetal alcohol syndrome.

Speech Pathologists may also work with people who have difficulties with feeding and swallowing. This is not an area that we focus on, but we can refer you to other specialised Speech Pathologists who can help.

What happens in a Speech Pathology session?

Generally, our first session would be all about getting to know you and your child, and the communication needs and goals you have. We often meet you at our clinic in the comfy, private space of one of our consult rooms, but can also meet you and your child at your home or school. We will usually bring in some activities and resources for your child to engage with and take a few brief notes as well.

Together we will make a plan for what support your child needs and how we can help them while using their strengths and favourite things to do. We may also want to talk to other people in your child’s life, for example, their teacher or other professionals they may see to get a better picture of your child’s needs.

During our ongoing sessions we focus on goals relevant to your child’s life and having fun. We love finding out what your child is interested in and using that in our sessions.

We will always provide you with some useful and evidence-based tips and activities on how you can support your child’s communication at home, preschool/school and in the community.

The following video with our Speech Pathologists Delna and Vivien, gives a little insight into a Speech Pathology session… What does a Speech Pathology session look like?

Ongoing sessions can occur at the clinic, at home or at preschool/school.

what does a speech pathologist do
What is a day in the life of a Speech Pathologist like?

Each day we help children and young people at the clinic, home and school. We may see them face to face or via telehealth (online sessions). We spend time preparing materials and resources for our clients. We also complete progress notes and other paperwork. Other tasks we may complete include writing reports, participating in meetings for your child and engaging in professional development opportunities. Every day is different, but the best part is always spending time with clients and families.

How involved are parents in the sessions?

It is important to have parents in the sessions where possible so you can learn what strategies work for your child and how you can support them at home. Our Speech Pathologists in Newcastle use a client centred approach that involves parent training depending on the goals of your child. If you cannot attend the session we will provide you with some information about the session.

How do I know when my child should see a Speech Pathologist?

If you, your child or their teacher is concerned about their communication it may be beneficial to meet with a Speech Pathologist. Sometimes children can become frustrated if they cannot communicate so it is important to address any concerns early on.

Children all develop differently and at a different rate. Speech Pathologists can help determine if your concerns about your child are something that would benefit from further assessment or support or whether they are to be expected for their age. Some examples where seeing a Speech Pathologist would be of benefit include:

  • If your child is becoming frustrated when trying to communicate.
  • If your child needs help to learn new words or put words together.
  • If your child has difficulty pronouncing certain sounds and if you or others find it difficult to understand them.
  • If you need to support your child to follow instructions, routines and understand everyday objects and concepts.
  • If your child has difficulty communicating their needs and wants clearly.
  • If your child needs support to play with friends, talking to friends and expressing their emotions.
  • If your child is repeating sounds or words when talking or gets “stuck” on their words.
  • If your child needs help with reading, writing or spelling.
  • If your child’s voice sounds hoarse or croaky.

If you have any worries about your child’s communication it is best not to ‘wait and see’ and check in with a Speech Pathologist. There is also some useful communication milestones fact sheets at Speech Pathology Australia.

Where can I get help?

Often a good place to start is to talk to your child’s GP or Paediatrician about any concerns you have. If your child would benefit from the support of a Speech Pathologist, please get in touch with us.

For more resources, including communication milestones and factsheets please see Speech Pathology Australia’s website.

Vivien Edwards

Speech Pathologist

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