Tashacare’s speech pathologists work with children and adolescents to address difficulties with communication and/or eating, drinking and swallowing.
They can assess all aspects of communication and swallowing, and work to implement practical interventions that will benefit your child and your family. They work in collaboration with other stakeholders involved in your child’s care, such as childcare facilities, schools, teachers and other Tashacare or external allied health professionals to ensure that strategies and interventions can be implemented across all relevant settings with a cohesive and holistic approach.
Our pathologists work with children who have a range of conditions:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Developmental delays
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Intellectual disabilities
- Cleft Palate
- Voice disorders
They can assist children, adolescents and families experiencing concerns with:
- Attention and listening skills
These skills are necessary for learning and are prerequisites for other areas of communication.
Play is the way that children learn about the environment, their bodies, and their place in the world. It is vital for language acquisition and social interaction skills. Play encompasses exploratory, cause and effect, sensory, pretend/imaginary, constructive, interpersonal (play with others) or intrapersonal (solitary play) interactions.
- Social interaction skills
Knowing what to say, how to say it and use of body language in our interactions with others are all important social skills as they allow us to communicate our personal thoughts, ideas, and feelings. However, some individuals may experience difficulties understanding unspoken social conventions (greetings, eye contact, reading/using body language and turn taking in conversation), initiating conversation with others, remaining on topic in conversation or understanding jokes/humour.
Children and adolescents with communication difficulties often get frustrated and angry when they are not understood. They can also have difficulties asking for clarification when they don’t understand something. These difficulties can result in them expressing negative behaviours.
- Receptive language skills
Receptive language is the ability to understand and interpret spoken and written words and sentences. Difficulties in this area may be observed through an inability to follow verbal instructions or appearing to lack interest when storybooks are read to them or when they are spoken to.
- Expressive language skills
Expressive language refers to a person’s ability to express themselves using speaking, writing, gestures, and symbols to convey meaning. Some individuals can present as non-verbal (do not use any spoken language) while others may use verbal language but have difficulties with grammar, limited vocabulary, or written work, for example.
- Speech intelligibility
Speech intelligibility refers to the degree a person’s speech can be understood based on their articulation and clarity of sound/word production.
- Voice quality
Some people can have difficulties with their vocal quality which can present as a hoarse voice, overly quiet voice, partial/complete loss of voice, scratchy voice, throat clearing/excessive coughing.
- Stammer and dysfluency
A stammer involves difficulty getting words out and can present as issues with repeating part or whole words (e.g. ‘m-m-m-my name is’ / ‘and and and I am’), prolonging words (e.g. ‘mmmmmmmmy’), blocking sounds (when trying to speak but no words come out) or ‘tripping over’ words due to a fast rate of speech.
- Alternative communication (AAC)
Alternative communication systems are used to facilitate communication for people with difficulty expressing themselves verbally. This can be achieved without any external aids, for example, through sign language, gesture, and facial expression. Otherwise, external aids can be used, such as low tech options that our speech pathologists can make (e.g. visual schedule, communication book/board, keyring mini cards) or high tech options that fall under the assistive technology category (e.g. iPad apps, Eye Gaze, text to speech/speech to text).
- Sensory feeding difficulties
Sensory feeding difficulties are common in people with a diagnosis of ASD and can result in a restricted diet due to the avoidance of certain textures or colours (e.g. won’t eat wet or crunchy foods).
- Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
These difficulties can include specific issues with food or drink falling or spilling out of the mouth, excessive drooling, difficulties chewing certain textures, difficulties managing fluid in the mouth, coughing or choking on food or drink, weight loss, frequent chest infections and pneumonia.
For young children, our speech therapists use play-based therapy to create a fun and exciting therapy approach, all while addressing the child’s or family’s goals, and supporting them to reach their developmental milestones. Toys and games are used in sessions to teach and develop crucial communication and language skills which will set the child up for their future.
Speech pathology for adolescents often focuses on developing functional communication skills, which will enable them to communicate and participate fully in their daily lives and communities by increasing their independence and self-confidence as they transition into young adults.