Working with the Whole Child

We have a holistic approach. We do not treat speech and language alone but support families to address the complex needs of the whole child to help your child achieve their full potential.  As each child is unique, we look beyond the label and provide therapy for their current needs.  We will help identify, refer and work with other professionals.

Working with each child as an individual

We assess and treat the needs of each individual child. Each child has a therapy program tailored to their own identified needs based on their current abilities. We utilise approaches from a broad range of programs to target the specific therapy goals for your child. We ensure success based learning at every step.

Working with Families

Families are an integral and invaluable part of the therapy team. You have expert knowledge of your child. Families help to identify their child’s issues and concerns and help to formulate goals.   Working with parents is a key to generalizing goals into naturalistic settings, across environments and people.

Our Speech – Language Pathologists can help your child with:

Speech

Many young children have difficulty with pronouncing specific sounds e.g. ‘s’ or ‘k’. This can be because they have

  • an articulation difficulty
  • a phonological delay or disorder
  • dyspraxia
  • or a combination

We can work with you and your child to teach them about how to use their mouth and tongue to produce specific sounds and move onto being successful with using it in syllables, words, sentences and conversation!

Typically, a child develops stages of speech at different ages. This is what to expect:

Before 18 months of age – lots of babble and vocal play, vowels and consonant sounds b, m, d and n

By 18 months of Age – A child’s speech is normally 25% intelligible

By 2 Years of Age – A child’s speech is normally 50 -75% intelligible
Can say most vowel sounds and the sounds b, m, p, t, d, n.
Attempting two syllable words.

By 3 Years of Age – A child’s speech is normally 75-100% intelligible
Can say the sounds h, y, w, m, n, ng, p, k, t, b, g, d

By 4 Years of Age – Can say the sounds f, l, s, z, sh, ch, j

By 5 Years of Age – Can say the sounds r

By 6 Years of Age – Can say the sounds v

By 7 Years of Age – Can say the sounds th

Language

Language is incredibly complex.  It can be broken into the following areas:

  • Receptive language – is the understanding of what others say
  • Expressive language – is the ability to construct language
  • Pragmatics – is the use of language

Within these areas are semantics (word knowledge) and syntax (grammar).

Many children experience language difficulties. This can look different at different ages.

  • Some young children aged 1-2 might be late to talk and just need help getting started
  • Other children might find it harder to follow instructions and to express themselves using clear sentence.

Assessment and intervention is different for each child – it is often play based for younger children, where they learn to follow instructions and learn concepts whilst playing, and you will learn valuable language modelling strategies. A more formal assessment and intervention (e.g. table top activities) might be carried out for older children.

Literacy

Literacy instruction and expectations have changed since the introduction of the National Curriculum.

Pre-prep children need to get ready for prep and they will need to know all the letter names, be able to blend sounds into words, speak well and have strong language skills.

Prep children – some schools start readers and sight words in the first week or first term no matter whether your child is ready to learn.  They are expected to be able to write a sentence and read a book by the end of the prep year.

Children shouldn’t struggle to learn to read.  Struggling is an indicator that something specific is holding them back.  Learning words shouldn’t take hours and hours.

Literacy delays can become evident at any age – for some children it is in Prep when they are struggling to learn letters and understand how sounds and letters work together. For others, they might have coped well in year 1 and 2, but the increased reading demands in year 3 all of a sudden become hard to manage as words become longer and they are unable to rely on sight words.

We use the Sounds to Letters © program to work on all the core skills required for successful reading and spelling. This program can be used with children of all ages, depending on their goals. It is individualised for each child and progress is guided by the child. It focusses on building skills of letter knowledge, blending and segmenting sounds in words, and understanding sound-letter links in a structured systematic way.

Some children can read fluently but cannot comprehend what they read or they can answer basic questions but struggle to answer questions which require them to read between the lines.

Fluency

Stuttering can present itself at any age. It is strongly recommended to seek therapy at a young age, rather than waiting to see if a child will grow out of it. However, it is certainly possible to successfully manage adolescent stuttering too.

Children can have a range of different types of stutters:

  • whole word repetition eg “Can can can I go to the shops”
  • syllable repetition eg “bo bo bo bottle”
  • sound repetition eg “CCCCCCCan I go to the shops”
  • blocking eg the child can’t get the word out and there is a pause in front of the word.
Oromotor

Speech Pathologists are in the best place to help children struggling with oromotor skills.  Children need good oromotor skills to:

  • smile
  • kiss
  • blow bubbles
  • blow out their candles
  • manage saliva
  • lick teeth and lips to get food
  • chew and eat
  • lip closure and rounding for speaking
  • manage air flow for swimming

Children need good diaphramatic breathing to support speaking, coughing and sports.

Children with tongue ties often need to do specific exercises to increase their range and strength of movement.

 

 

High Level Language Skills

High level language skills require children to go beyond the basics of receptive and expressive language and critically analyse, reflect and interpret information. These skills allow us to expand and explore ideas through:

  • Complex reasoning and problem solving
  • Predicting what could happen
  • Making Inferences and logical descriptions
  • Explaining and justifying eg why or how
  • Sequencing items in appropriate order
  • Determining causes
  • Different perspectives
  • Comprehending and using humour
  • Non-literal language ‘sayings’ and idioms
  • Understanding the main idea/point
Auditory Processing

The term Auditory Processing is often used by different professionals in different capacities. Teachers and other professionals may use the term Auditory Processing when referring to receptive language and phonological processing (underlying literacy skills). This makes it really confusing. The difference between the three terms is:
• Receptive language is our input of language i.e. our ability to comprehend and make sense of language.
• Phonological awareness is our ability to understand, separate and manipulate sounds within words.
• Auditory processing on the other hand is our ability to process the auditory information around us.

When Speech-Language Pathologists refer to Auditory Processing they are typically referring to the child’s ability to hear and process language in the presence of background noise or competing messages.

When children have difficulties with auditory processing it can impact on their learning and success. Therapy involves specific desensitisation programs to help the child’s ability to separate auditory information and focus on the key features to help them succeed in a noisy classroom.

A special auditory processing assessment by an Audiologist will be required. We don’t recommend this assessment before Grade 3 as it’s a complex and confusing assessment. We recommend seeking a GP referral for this assessment so that you are entitled to a medicare rebate. Typically most Audiologists will recommend thorough assessment of the child’s language and literacy skills by a Speech Pathologist.
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Maths

Maths is more than just numbers it is heavily language based. It is full of concepts, complex words, phrases and symbols. To succeed with maths children need to have a strong understanding of maths vocabulary and understand the symbols. There are more concepts per sentence and paragraph than any other curriculum area. Children are often exposed to language such as how many, combine, describe, identify, compare, contrast, recognize, compose, distinguish defining attributes vs non-defining attributes.

Children not only have to solve maths problems they also have to decide which strategy to use and explain how they solved them.

Children with language difficulties may need support in the language and vocabulary of maths.

Some areas of Maths such as telling the time are heavily language based.

Early Development

From the moment your child is born they are building the foundation skills for communication.  When children don’t develop these early skills it can affect their later speech and language development:

  • Engagement
  • Showing an interest and curiosity in others
  • Showing an interest to sounds
  • Babbling
  • Copying and imitation
  • Joint attention
  • Shared attention
  • Developing intentional communication
  • Initiating
  • Turn Taking
  • Requesting
  • Play
Social Thinking / Skills

Social skills are an important part of communication. Some children can struggle with all or just some specific aspects of social communication.

What is socially appropriate at age 5 is no longer appropriate at age 9 and the social rules will change significantly by the time they are 15.  Children need skills to be able to identify and follow the hidden rules of the situations they find themselves in as they progress through life.  They need to be able to understand others thinking and perspectives.  Children must have strong skills to be able to develop successful relationships to ensure that they have positive interactions with family, friends, students, teachers and in the long term their co-workers, employers and partners.

The skills they learn today will see them through a lifetime of social interactions.  We can work on these skills in a fun way that your child will understand, and we can help you as the parent learn how to teach your child about the complexities of social skills!

Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication makes up 60-90% of the messages we give and receive all day.  Non verbal skills include:

  • eye gaze
  • eye pointing
  • pointing
  • facial expressions
  • body language
  • tone of voice
  • gesture
  • eye contact
  • personal space
  • how to approach others

We communicate with our whole bodies not just our face and words.  You can tell a lot from how a person opens a door, gets out of a car, closes a door, walks across a room, puts a cup down or a look when you go to touch something.

You can tell what is going to happen next in a classroom just by following a teachers eye gaze from the clock, to their hat on the table and to the door.  A child can be told not to do something many times without the use of words.  Children with difficulties will often not even look for these messages or interpret them correctly leading to frustration, trouble and miscommunication.

Children need to be able to use and comprehend the non verbal messages to be successful communicators in all environments.