Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, stuttering and using voice. A children’s Speech Pathologists works with babies and children who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, brain injuries, learning disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language. Children who experience difficulties swallowing food and drink safely can also be helped by a speech pathologist.
Speech pathologists are university trained Allied Health professionals. A child might visit a speech pathologist because they need treatment to help their expressive language (putting words together and being understood) or receptive language (understanding instructions and meanings). Some speech pathologists specialise in areas of ‘complex need’, such as autism or cerebral palsy.
Speech pathologists work with many different people with lots of different communication challenges, including:
- Giving feeding advice to a mother whose baby has a cleft palate or difficulties with suck:swallow:breathe coordination skills
- Working with a toddler who is 2 years old but not speaking yet
- Working with a 3 year old who finds it difficult to attend to and follow instructions
- Working with children who are difficult to understand in a child care centre
- Working with a 4 year old who confuses words and finds it difficult to put words together into sentences to express himself
- Helping a primary school student understand what their teacher is telling them
- Helping a primary school student with reading and writing difficulties, learn sound awareness skills which are The foundation blocks for learning to read and write