Speech Pathologists primarily help children with their speech, language and literacy. Speech Pathologists can also help children use their language to communicate effectively with others in play and social situations (social skills).
Common concerns raised by parents include:
- Delayed speech development
- If your baby isn't using sounds or babbling to communicate
- If your 2 year old isn't using the 'early 8' speech sounds (words starting with p, b, m, n, h, w, t, d)
- If family and friends find your 3 year old difficult to understand (unclear speech)
- If unfamiliar people can't understand your 4 year old's speech
- Delayed language development or 'late talking'
- Difficulties expressing themselves
- Trouble understanding other and/or following instructions
- Challenges telling stories and answering questions
- Difficulties with sentence construction (e.g. leaving words out, using the wrong words, using made up words/jargon/jibberish)
Speech therapy can also help children develop their social skills. This might include helping a child use their language to communicate effectively with others in play and social situations, or helping a child to share play ideas with friends. Parents may attend therapy if their child has difficulties sharing and taking turns, or difficulties making friends at kindergarten or school.
Speech Pathologists also work with children in the areas of literacy.
Literacy concerns often include:
- Difficulties learning to read and spell
- Poor reading comprehension
- Difficulties learning sight words (e.g. 'Magic Words', 'Hot Words', 'Golden Words')
- Struggles getting children to do their readers
- Not keeping up with peers in reading development
Feeding concerns often include:
- Babies who have difficulties starting solids or introducing new textures
- Children who have difficulties eating and swallowing safely (gagging, coughing or choking during meals)
- Children who are tube fed
- Difficulties chewing foods (e.g. some children avoid meat because it's a complex texture)
- Limited range of foods or excluding whole food groups (e.g. not eating any meats other than chicken nuggets, limited fruits and vegetables, only wants to eat 'white food')
- Fussy eating, food aversions and sensory based feeding difficulties
If you are worried about your child's communication, it is important to seek help early. Parents are often told to 'wait and see' or advised that children 'grow out of' speech and language delays. A 'wait and see' approach can mean that opportunities are missed to support a child's development during their critical learning phase. Research shows that the earlier you seek help, the better the outcomes can be.