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What is Speech Pathology?


Speech pathology is a profession concerned with helping people to communicate optimally. Speech pathologists are professionals who are trained to assess, diagnose and treat people who have a problem with communication. Speech pathology encompasses all areas of communication including reading, writing, speech, language, signs, symbols and gestures.

Paediatric speech pathologists may work directly with the child in therapy, work with the child’s family or teachers/significant others to help enhance their communication skills. Paediatric speech pathologists may work with children who have a communication difficulty relating to:

  • Using correct speech sounds
  • Using or understanding language
  • Stuttering
  • Reading and Writing
  • Autism or other development syndromes or disabilities e.g. Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy.
  • Social skills

For further information about the profession of speech pathology, please see the following fact sheet.

Could a Speech Pathologist Help My Child?

Speech pathology may be helpful for children experiencing difficulties in the following areas:

Speech Skills

  • Trouble using clear speech that is easily understood by others.
  • Difficulty using the correct sounds in words – your child might substitute sounds, leave sounds out, or add extra sounds in.

Click here for further information about speech development in children aged 0-3 years.

Click here for further information about speech development in preschool and school-aged children.

Literacy Skills

  • Difficulty with early literacy skills such as rhyming or counting syllables.
  • Difficulties learning sight words, sounding out, knowing which sound letters make.
  • Problems with reading and spelling.

Click here for further information about how speech pathologists can support children with literacy development.

Stuttering

Children who stutter may:

  • Repeat sounds, syllables, whole words or phrases.
  • Experience blockages where they have trouble making the sound come out.

Click here for further information about stuttering.

Language Skills

  • Children may be late in learning to talk
  • Difficulty using words and sentences to express themselves.
  • Trouble understanding what is being said to them.
  • Difficulty learning new words and understanding word meanings
  • Children may use incorrect grammar or mix up their sentences
  • Difficulty with telling stories or explaining things – other may have trouble understanding the child’s message.
  • Speech pathologists can also support students with their written language skills. This can be helpful for children who have difficulty writing sentences, assignments or essays at school.

Learning Difficulties

Some children have learning difficulties that cause problems for them with various parts of the school curriculum. A speech pathologist can be an important team member in helping to determine the nature of the problem, the child’s strengths and weaknesses, strategies for support and strategies for support.

Social Skills

  • Children may need support with knowing what and how to say things in different situations.
  • Children with social skills difficulties may find it hard to maintain a conversation.

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