This is a common question that we often find diligent parents asking when they walk through the doors at Capable Kids. The simple answer is they are here because they are trying to do the best by their child and they have realised or been told by someone that their child needs a little bit of help with their development. At Capable Kids, we offer Speech Pathology and Occupational therapy for children and young adults. Sometimes a child has been referred to one service, but often they have been told they need to come to both.
In order to become registered with Speech Pathology Australia, the nation’s governing body for all things Speech Pathology, a Speech Pathologist would have had to have completed a minimum of a four year bachelor degree at university, although many Speech Pathologists hold a masters degree which is an additional two years university study. These degrees would have comprised of a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised practice as well as a very full load of academic study in all areas of communication, behaviour, neuroscience and swallowing. Once they graduate, a Speech Pathologist will then be required to attend ongoing professional peer supervision and professional training in order to maintain their Speech Pathologist status.
So, what does a Speech Pathologist even do. There is that clever little meme that has been doing the rounds that implies that many of our friends think we play all day, while the children we work with think we might be clowns! The truth, as will all things, probably lies somewhere in between. At Capable Kids, we specialise in paediatric Speech Pathology. This encompasses many areas such:
- Development of speech sounds
- Assisting children to learn to understand language (receptive language). Children who appear to be defiant or have difficulties paying attention or listening often have receptive language difficulties.
- Improving a child’s ability to use verbal language. This begins with single words and progresses into conversation.
- Helping children to manage stuttering. Stuttering is the interruption of the natural flow of verbal communication, and often manifests in repetition of sounds, words or phrases, the prolongation of sounds or the inability to get a specific sound or word out.
- Assisting children achieve appropriate tongue, jaw, lip and cheek function through the use of oral facial myology principles.
- Alternative communication. If a child is unable to engage in verbal communication, alternative communication methods allow them to use an alternate way of letting people know what they are thinking. It is an incredibly powerful thing to assist a young person in finding their voice. Sometimes children need to use alternative communication for a short period of their lives and sometimes it is a more long term solution.
- Speech Pathologists often work in conjunction with Occupational Therapists and other professionals to teach children to read when they are having difficulties with learning in traditional school settings. Often this begins by teaching phonological awareness skills, which include developing a child’s ability to attend and think about how sounds exist in words and sentences. This then progresses to teaching reading in a structured, systematic, phonics based approach.
- Assisting children develop their social thinking and ability to relate to each other. Social skills involve a knowledge of pragmatic language, which includes what we say, how we say it, how appropriate our interactions with other people are and our non-verbal communication such as eye-contact, facial expression and tone of voice. Speech Pathologists often work on social skills in a group setting as social interaction often happens with other children in a play situation.
Your Speech Pathologist may work on one or many of these areas with your child. Often sessions take place in a clinic room, where goals are worked on in play based settings and rewards are given in the form of play time or tokens. Speech Pathology will be a collaboration between the child’s care givers, the Speech Pathologist as well as your child and other education or health professionals where necessary. It is often expected that the child’s care givers will be active participants in therapy, attend therapy sessions with their child and complete homework and follow up activities in order to obtain the best results.