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An image of the logo for 2021 Speech Pathology Week. In a blue bubble are the words "2021 Speech Pathology Week" and next to it a green speech bubble with the words "Communication is everyone's right". Wrapping around the green bubble is the text "www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/week"

Massive shoutout to Speech Pathologists this week! It's Speech Pathology Week. The theme for Speech Pathology Week in 2021 is: Communication is everyone's right.. Read on to find out more about Speech Pathology, and how to find one.

Communication disability affects a person's ability to understand and/or be understood by others. Levels range from mild to profound and can be temporary or last a lifetime. Communication disabilities can be a "hidden disability". 1.2 million Australians have a communication disability (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Speech Pathologists help people living with communication difficulties.

What is a Speech Pathologist?

Speech Pathologists are professionals who study, diagnose and treat communication disorders. They work with individuals who have difficulty communicating because of problems that can affect speech and language. They even help people who have trouble swallowing drink and food safely. They can work in specialist intervention for children with deafness or hearing impairment, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy or autism. From stuttering, social skills, literacy, effects of a stroke or brain injury on communication, learning or intellectual disability, dementia or hearing loss, a Speech Pathologist can assist in communication strategies to improve clarity or fluency, or signs, symbols, gestures and other forms of assisted communication.

Speech pathologists assess a person's communication needs. Then design options for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems and making recommendations on which AAC system would be best in different situations. Examples of AAC are both aided - like pictures, Communication Boards and non-aided like gestures and body language. 

Speech Pathologists can work alongside other professionals like Occupational Therapists. 

Tips for successful communication (SCOPE Australia)

  • Always treat the person with the communication disability with dignity and respect
  • Be welcoming and friendly
  • Understand there are many ways to communicate - use gestures, point to objects or pictures
  • Communicate one idea at a time
  • Ask the person with the disability what will help with communication
  • Avoid loud locations, find a quiet place
  • Listen carefully
  • When you don't understand, let them know you have difficulty understanding
  • If you think the person has not understood, repeat what you have said or say it a different way
  • Try asking the person “yes” or “no” questions (closed questions) if you are having difficulty understanding them
  • Ask the person to repeat or try another approach if you don't understand
  • To make sure you are understood, check with the person that you have understood them correctly
  • If you ask a question, wait for the person to reply
  • Allow the person time to respond, so always be patient
  • Speak directly to the person and make eye contact. (Though be mindful that some people may not want you to look at them, e.g. some people with autism spectrum disorder)
  • Speak normally. You don't have to for you to raise your voice or slow your speech.

Sourced from  SCOPE, Communication for All Bookletwww.scopeaust.org.au

pdfCommunication for All Downloadable PDF

How to find a Speech Pathologist 

Speech Pathology Australia

Have an online search tool. Filter a search by postcode, mobile providers, telehealth providers, age of client, practice name and practice specialities. These searches list current Certified Practising members of Speech Pathology Australia (SPA). These are only members who have chosen to have their details made public to find a Speech pathologist.

Things to consider

With a little knowledge about what you are looking for, (such as the bulleted list below) you can narrow your search.

You might want to know do they

  • Operate in your area
  • Work with a particular age group
  • Speak a second language or multiple languages to communicate with all family members
  • For children, if they have in-school services at your child's school
  • Have Speech Pathologists AND Occupational Therapists who work together in one organisation.
  • Have experience in treatment for your individual needs
  • Have the capacity to take new customers
  • What the waitlist (if there is one) timeframe is
  • Offer mobile or telehealth services,
  • Meet your plan management,
  • NDIS status
  • Public services are sometimes available through hospitals, community health centres and outreach. 

Read about Telehealth which is also available for some Speech Pathology Services due to COVID-19.

IDEAS supports you with information to connect with a Speech pathologist. Let’s ensure all Australians are Communicating with Confidence.

Information Sourced From

Speech Pathology Australia

IDEAS does information, so you can do life.