Hunter Speech Spot is a small private practice located in the beautiful village of Morpeth in the NSW Hunter Valley, offering supportive speech pathology assessment, diagnoses and treatment options for both children and adults. My goal is to assist my clients to optimise their communication potential.
I work closely with my clients to determine their communication goals and ensure that therapy services are targeting their areas of main concern as this will have the greatest functional impact on their lives.
I have a passion for lifelong learning and you can be assured my services are based on the latest evidence based research. I am a practicing member of Speech Pathology Australia – the national association for certified practicing speech pathologists.
Articulation difficulties – this refers to issues effecting the pronunciation of speech sounds. Often referred to as a “motor” issue, which means that the client is having difficulty with moving and coordinating the articulators ( lips, teeth, tongue, palate and jaw) to produce the correct speech sound. Whilst the acquisition of speech sounds can vary slightly, most children have acquired certain sounds by a particular age.
The following provides a rough guide to sound acquisition.
- By 2 years of age: p, b, d, h, m, n,
- By 3 years of age: t, k, g, f, w
- By 4 years of age: kw
- By 5 years of age: s, l, y, j, ch, sh, bl
- By 6 years of age: r, v, br, dr, tr, gr, kr, fr, gl, fl, kl, pl, st,
- By 7 years of age: z, sl, sp, sw, th
Information obtained from the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation-2 (GFTA-2) 2000.
Difficulty with articulation can have a huge impact on a person’s intelligibility or how easy it is for others to understand them. This can greatly impact their communication effectiveness and in fact lead to issues with their social and academic development. Particularly with children, articulation difficulties can impact early literacy skills. It can impact on self-esteem and cause individuals to withdraw or avoid communication opportunities.
A speech pathologist can assess articulation and identify any issues of concern, then recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
Phonological processes:- patterns of sound errors that typically developing children use to simplify speech as they are learning to talk. They do this because they lack the ability to appropriately coordinate their lips, tongue, teeth, palate and jaw for clear speech. However, sometimes children continue to substitute these sounds as they get older and require therapy to help them distinguish between different speech sounds.
Phonological processes are not a “motor” disorder, That is, most children are able to produce the correct sound in isolation but continue to substitute particular sounds in words. For example, a child may be able to pronounce the sounds “g” and “d”, but when shown a picture of a gate and asked what it is, they will respond “date”. As you can imagine, if left untreated this will have a huge impact on their ability to be understood, and will greatly affect their ability to develop strong early literacy skills of reading and spelling.
A speech pathologist can assess your child’s speech to determine whether treatment targeting phonological processes would benefit your child.
Receptive Language (understanding)
Difficulty with understanding others has a huge impact on a child’s ability to interact with those around them. It can affect their ability to follow instructions which is critical in a home, pre-school or school environment. A young child with receptive language difficulties may have trouble following simple directions (“ put the Lego in the box”), some may have trouble identifying objects in books ( “point to the elephant” ), or identifying familiar body parts (“where are your toes?”).
As children get older they start to develop an understanding of more subtle communication skills such as inferencing and body language. These are extremely important to effective communication encounters.
A speech pathologist can assess receptive language skills and determine if they are age appropriate and suggest a program to target these skills if an issue is identified. It is important to identify any issues as early as possible, to avoid falling behind both socially and academically.
Expressive language is the use of words, sentences, gestures (waving, pointing), body language (facial expressions) and writing to communicate messages to other people. If a child has difficulty with expressive language, they may find it difficult to label objects, create proper sentences using correct grammar, answer questions, retell a story or write a paragraph correctly.
Strong expressive language skills enables a child to convey their wants and needs, communicate individual thoughts and beliefs, develop their vocabulary and use of written language. Children with an expressive language delay find communication frustrating as they struggle to convey their meaning to others.
Although children develop their expressive language skills at their own rate, there are age appropriate language skills that a speech pathologist can assess. For example, sentence structure should develop from simple one word sentences (“dog”) from about 1 year of age progressing to two word sentences (“dog run”) by 2 years of age, then 3 word sentences (“dog run in”) by 3 years of age and from 4 years of age forming longer more complex sentences (“the dog is running in the garden”).
Pragmatics skills are sometimes referred to as social skills. Social skills are a key component to successful communication, and include skills such as maintaining eye contact, topic maintenance/appropriateness, turn taking, sharing and reading gestural cues such as facial expressions and body language. Children with poor pragmatic skills often have trouble forming and maintaining meaningful friendships which can have a negative impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Many children on the autism spectrum have difficulties in this area, and if left untreated these issues can often carry through to adulthood.
A speech pathologist can provide support in this area of communication and develop a therapy program and suggest practical strategies to work on these skills if required.
Successful early literacy development can often be linked back to strong phonological awareness skills. Phonological awareness refers to a child’s ability to recognise letter/sound combinations and be able to identify and manipulate different sounds within words.
A speech pathologist is trained to assess phonological awareness and determine if these skills are age appropriate and provide support to develop these skills if an issue is identified. By developing strong phonological awareness a child will be well placed to progress with strong reading, writing and spelling skills which will provide a great foundation for them to reach their full academic potential.
One in three stroke survivors experience difficulties with communication. After a stroke, it is quite common to experience more than one type of communication difficulty...
Communication difficulties may include:
Aphasia. Difficulty talking, reading, writing or understanding other people when they speak . This is also called dysphasia.
Apraxia. Difficulty coordinating the muscles for speech. Your brain has trouble planning the movements, making it difficult to say words. This is also called dyspraxia.
Dysarthria. Weakness or paralysis in the muscles used for speaking. Your speech may become slurred and difficult for others to understand.
Dysphonia. Weakness or paralysis in the muscles in and around the vocal chords. Your voice might sound like a whisper, or it might sound hoarse or rough. If you cannot make any sound at all, it is called aphonia.
Cognitive difficulties. Your memory, thinking and judgement is affected. It may be difficult to pay attention when people talk to you. It may be hard to understand or speak complex sentences. Your conversation may seem inappropriate to other people.
A speech pathologist can assess your communication skills and develop a rehabilitation program to target issues identified in the assessment. They may also be able to suggest specialist communication aids to maximise your participation in communication opportunities.
Dysphagia is a broad medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing. People with dysphagia may find chewing, drinking, sucking and managing saliva challenging...
Eating and drinking can be uncomfortable, stressful and even dangerous for a person with swallowing difficulties. If not managed properly, swallowing difficulties can result in life threatening medical conditions, such as choking, poor nutrition, compromised chest health and dehydration.
Symptoms of dysphagia, such as coughing, gurgling voice and difficulty managing saliva, can make eating and drinking in front of friends and family difficult and sometimes embarrassing. These problems can lead to anxiety, depression and social isolation.
Speech pathologists have extensive knowledge about the muscles in the mouth, tongue and neck, making them well placed to help people who have difficulty with swallowing (dysphagia). They often work as part of a multidisciplinary team which may include a general practitioner, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and/or dietitian.
When working with a client with dysphagia, a speech pathologist will tailor their intervention to the unique needs of each individual.
Treatment can include mealtime observation and assessment, diet modification and providing information, advice and strategies to manage swallowing difficulties.
Some people living with Parkinson’s will not experience speech and communication difficulties. However, a large number of people do develop problems with speech and non-verbal communication. The stage when these problems might emerge is different for everyone...
The symptoms will vary from person to person but may include:
- Reduced volume of speech
- Slurred speech
- Fast speech
- Difficulty articulating words
- A monotonous tone
- A hoarse or unsteady voice
- Small, spidery handwriting (known as micrographia)
- Reduced facial expressions
- Reduced body language, including hand gestures
A speech pathologist can help with all aspects of communication affected by Parkinson’s Disease. If consulted early they may be able to suggest strategies to slow or prevent problems developing.
The therapy recommended by a speech pathologist is dependent on the problems you might be having. Some forms of therapy might involve exercises to:
- Increase speech volume
- Improve speech clarity, articulation and tone
- Improve rate of speech
- Coordinate breathing and speech
- Improve non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions