Speech therapy

Speech refers predominantly to the articulation (pronunciation) of sounds, but the broader definition also encompasses fluency, intonation and all matter of verbal and non-verbal communication.

What causes Speech difficulties? Speech Pathologists tend to refer to two main subdivisions of speech difficulties; developmental speech delays and speech disorders.

Delayed speech follows the normal progression of speech/sound development but at a slower rate, whereas disordered speech is the result of abnormal speech patterns.

Sometimes a child may have a global developmental delay or speech and/or language delay that is the result of slow maturational development of the part of the brain that controls the necessary speech muscles and processes and produces language.

These speech delays may slowly develop with the help of some Speech Therapy, some resolving rapidly and some requiring on-going support for a longer period of time.

Some speech difficulties are symptoms of other disorders, impairments or difficulties such as hearing impairments, brain injury, stroke, intellectual disability and other congenital syndromes.

How do I know if I have or my child has a speech difficulty?

It’s important to recognise that everyone’s speech is different and children develop at different rates, so comparison of one’s speech to those around them is never an accurate gauge of what is ‘normal’.

If you (or your child) have difficulties with at least one of the following:

  • Difficulty with pronunciation of one or even several different sounds which affect the ability to communicate effectively
  • Difficulties with stuttering/stammering and overall fluency of speech
  • Getting your words ‘muddled up’
  • Poor confidence as a result of your speech
  • Difficulty interacting with family, peers and colleagues because of speech difficulties

Or you would like to improve:

  • Your public speaking
  • Your accent (if English is a second language)

Then you may benefit from booking an initial consultation with one of our friendly Speech Pathologists, who can take some background information, administer some screening assessments and decide whether formal assessment is required.

If formal assessment has been recommended- all children under 18 must have a hearing test first. This is to ensure that their speech difficulties are not related to poor hearing which is common amongst school-age children because of the high incidence of ear infections.

If you (or your child) have had other relevant assessments done, please bring the reports with you to your initial consultation.

Language Assessment

Language refers to overall ability to comprehend both verbal information and written information and overall ability to express oneself both verbally and in written form. Difficulties with comprehension are termed as receptive language difficulties and difficulties with expressing oneself are termed expressive language difficulties. Children may experience difficulties with either receptive or expressive language or with both.

A great way of defining the difference between speech and language, is to think about the relationship between a computer and printer. When we want to communicate something, we turn our thoughts into words and sentences that convey our message. We even think about how we are going to say what we want to say; tone, intonation... This is the stage of communication where the brain (the computer) does all of the thinking, planning and organising of what we want to say. These processes are collectively what we refer to as language. In the second stage, the brain (our computer) sends the message to all of the speech mechanisms such as the tongue lips etc... (our printer) to communicate the message.

What causes language difficulties? Like speech difficulties, language difficulties can be the result of a developmental language delay or a language disorder.

Language difficulties are termed delayed generally only in pre-school aged children, if language difficulties are pervasive beyond this age-group, it is termed as a language disorder.

Although often coupled with other learning difficulties, language difficulties can occur in even very bright children who simply can’t quite organise what they want to say.

Language development is a highly complex process and therefore involves a number of different factors. Whilst there is much debate into the many theories of language development and associated difficulties, there are two streams of thought which are well recognised:

  • Biological pre-conditions: this refers to a predisposition of language difficulties which may include;
  • Incidence of chronic reoccurring ear infections (fluctuating conductive hearing loss)
  • Genetic link with other family members who have learning/language difficulties
  • Developmental difficulties during pregnancy (and/or birthing complications such as premature birth)
  • Neurological developmental delay
  • Other disorders, impairments or difficulties such as hearing impairments, learning difficulties, brain injury, stroke, intellectual disability and other congenital syndromes.

Environmental pre-conditions: this refers to the surroundings in which a child grows up in and its provision of appropriate models for language (parents/guardians) and social opportunities (playing with siblings and peers) and learning environment (stimulating toys and activities).

However sometimes there is no apparent or direct cause for a language delay. Parents may have provided the best language learning environment possible and there appears to be no pre-disposing factors. This is where much of the current research is being directed.

Language delays may slowly develop with the help of Speech Therapy, some resolving rapidly and some requiring on-going support for a longer period of time. Generally speaking, the younger the child and the more regular the therapy, the more effective the therapy tends to be, resulting in a better long term outcome. Our Speech Pathologists also liaise closely with teachers and other health professionals to provide better overall support and management.

How do I know if I have/ or my child has a language difficulty? It’s important to recognise that everyone’s language is different and children develop at different rates, so comparison of one’s language skills to those around them is never an accurate gauge of what is ‘normal’. If you (or your child) have difficulties with at least one of the following:

  • Child not saying many words yet (or not talking at all)
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Can’t clearly express what I want to say
  • Takes longer to process information
  • Disorganised or jumbled up sentences
  • Comprehending verbal information/instructions
  • Understanding what you read
  • Forgets easily what has been said
Then you may benefit from booking an initial consultation with one of our friendly Speech Pathologists, who can take some background information, administer some screening assessments and decide whether formal assessment is required.

If formal assessment has been recommended- all children under 18 must have a hearing test first. This is to ensure that their language difficulties are not related to poor hearing which is common amongst school-age children because of the high incidence of ear infections.

If you (or your child) have had other relevant assessments done, please bring the reports with you to your initial consultation.

Speech and or Language Therapy

All speech and language therapy is 100% individualised and tailored to the child’s needs. Therapy goals are established through evaluating areas of strength and weakness indicated by the assessment report as well as encompassing the individual child’s learning style and interests.

We use a range of programs and resources to deliver therapy, including computer programs and goal targeted games and activities. We place great emphasis on making therapy enjoyable and motivating, because we truly believe children work best when they’re having fun with their learning. After each session, home practice activities or written worksheet activities are given to ensure the concept being taught is being consolidated. Children are expected to do a minimum 15 minutes per week to ensure they are progressing steadily and consistently.

The Speech Pathologist will also liaise with the child’s teacher to alert them to the goals being targeted in session, to suggest practical classroom strategies to assist and to find out how the child is coping with applying these skills in their everyday environment.

Auditory Training Therapy

More than HEARING is one of the few practices in Melbourne who offer Auditory training Therapy.

Like our Speech and Language Therapy, our Auditory Training Therapy is 100% individualised and tailored to the child’s needs. Therapy goals are established through evaluating areas of strength and weakness indicated by the assessment report as well as encompassing the individual child’s learning style and interests.

We use a range of programs and resources to deliver therapy, including computer programs and goal targeted games and activities. We place great emphasis on making therapy enjoyable and motivating, because we truly believe children work best when they’re having fun with their learning. After each session, home practice activities or written worksheet activities are given to ensure the concept being taught is being consolidated. Children are expected to do a minimum 15 minutes per week to ensure they are progressing steadily and consistently.

The Speech Pathologist will also liaise with the child’s teacher to alert them to the goals being targeted in session, to suggest practical classroom strategies to assist and to find out how the child is coping with applying these skills in their everyday environment.

Voice Assessment and Therapy

A voice disorder is a condition which affects the health of the vocal folds (commonly called the vocal chords) which compromises the quality, strength, endurance and use of the voice.

What causes voice disorders? There are many different causes of voice disorders, which generally fall into one of these three categories:

  • Medical condition
  • Neurological condition
  • Overuse/misuse

How do I know if I have/ or my child has a voice disorder?
If you (or your child) have difficulties with at least one of the following:

  • Husky or hoarse voice
  • A voice that tires quickly and easily
  • Recent throat/vocal fold surgery
  • You a professional voice user; singer, actor, teacher...
  • Pervasive cough (despite previous attempts to remedy with medication)
  • Soft/weak voice
  • Aphonia (no voice/lost voice)

Patients do not require a referral from a doctor or ENT to see a Speech Pathologist to investigate their voice disorder. Speech Pathologists are a great first point of call as they can refer you appropriately to a GP, ENT or other health professional if voice therapy is not the answer.

If you have been referred by a GP, ENT or other health professional for voice therapy- don’t forget to bring all your relevant reports to your initial consultation.

During the initial consultation, the Speech Pathologist will take a case history and a formal measure of the client’s vocal quality and devise a specific program of vocal function exercises to help strengthen and restore the voice to its maximum potential. A large part of Voice Therapy is also management strategies which help to preserve the voice as it regains its strength and to prevent further problems occurring. Otherwise they will advise as to whether other referrals are required to investigate the nature of the voice disorder more comprehensively.

If you (or your child) have had other relevant assessments done, please bring the reports with you to your initial consultation.