Paediatric Speech Pathology
A Speech Pathologist is a university trained Allied Health professional who works with both children and adults. Speech Pathologists are trained to assess, diagnose and provide intervention for people with a communication impairment. Communication involves speaking, hearing, listening, understanding, social skills, reading, writing and using voice. Therefore, a communication impairment may include difficulties with:
- Articulation (speech sound production)
- Language (Receptive Language – understanding instructions and meanings, and Expressive Language – putting words together and being understood)
- Fluency (stuttering)
- Literacy (involves reading and understanding what is read in written form)
- Social communication (how we communicate and understanding the social rules of communication that are needed to develop a successful relationship with another person)
- Voice (using their vocal cords to or voice box to produce speech)
There are many different causes of communication impairment and some of these causes include developmental delays, neuro-developmental disorders such as autism, Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy, stroke, brain injuries, learning difficulties, intellectual disability, and hearing loss as well as other problems that may affect speech and language. The impact of a communication impairment can range from mild to severe. Some may last a lifetime and others may be short term. Communication impairments may impact on interactions in the home environment, at school or socially.
Speech and language difficulties in particular can affect learning at school, resulting in poor academic achievement. People with a communication impairment may also struggle to express themselves, and share their ideas and opinions, resulting in frustration, anger or embarrassment.
A speech pathologist can work in a variety of settings and they use assessment tools to diagnose each person’s specific area of difficulty, provide advise and devise a treatment plan that will best suit their needs. The role of a speech pathologist is to also advocate for people with a communication impairment and their families