Speech Pathology

As a practice, TLC-WA has over 25 years’ experience diagnosing and treating children with a variety of speech, language and feeding difficulties, ranging from mild to severe. Our highly qualified team of Speech Pathologists work collaboratively and are all committed to a common goal; providing caring and tailored therapies designed to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients and their families.

We work with young babies exhibiting signs of developmental delay, children dealing with delayed language development and school aged children facing literacy difficulties through to children struggling with comprehension, auditory processing disorders, stuttering, eating disorders and disabilities.

Key to the successful treatment of any speech or language disorder is understanding the root cause and correctly identifying the areas in which a child’s skills are breaking down. At TLC-WA, we take the time to establish a deep connection with each individual client, really listening to family members to gain an understanding of their concerns and goals. We then tailor integrated therapies, designed to take an holistic approach to optimising outcomes for each child.

Our areas of Speech Pathology specialisation include:

Talking

When considering a child’s talking skills, assessment is broken down into two parts: ‘expressive language’ and ‘speech’. Expressive language refers to the content of what a child is saying, the words themselves and how they are combined into sentences to convey meaning. It also relates to the child’s ability to use language for a range of purposes such as story-telling, protesting and expressing wants and needs.

Speech refers to the sounds of words, that is whether or not the child is producing the sounds to correctly enunciate words. For example, a child attempting to say, ‘Karl the kitten was taking a cat nap’, may actually say, ‘Tarl the titten was tating a tat nap’.

Through a comprehensive assessment, a TLC-WA Speech Pathologist will determine whether language, speech or a combination of the two is the root cause of your child’s difficulties. They will also confirm whether your child’s sound errors are age appropriate or whether they are representative of delays. Following assessment, the Speech Pathologist will tailor evidence based interventions specifically to your child which will teach new sounds, develop vocabulary and create the building blocks for developing grammatically correct and understandable conversations.

Listening

Persistent listening difficulties can affect many other areas and, left untreated, can result in expressive language delays, complications with reading, writing and spelling as well as challenging behaviours. A child with listening difficulties can exhibit a variety of traits including an apparent failure to hear, an inability to comprehend or remember what was said to them (especially in noisy environments), difficulty following instructions, frequently asking for repetition and becoming easily distracted.

A TLC-WA Speech Pathologist will assess your child’s difficulties and evaluate where, in the listening process, your child’s abilities are breaking down. Assessments can be provided in our clinic and therapy would encompass a number of evidence based intervention programmes to build up receptive language, improve auditory memory ability and enhance auditory comprehension. We also offer complete support to your family in dealing with any associated challenges, such as literacy development and behaviour.

Language and Literacy

Language and literacy are closely related in that literacy development is highly dependent on preceding oral language development. In other words, if you can say it, you can write it! Children experiencing delayed speech or language difficulties are likely to then go on to encounter challenges with reading and writing. Literacy requires an ability to hear sounds in words, understand the meaning of written words and sentences and comprehend sentence structure.

TLC-WA’s Speech Pathologists are highly knowledgeable about how sounds, words, sentence structure and meaning are all combined to effectively communicate and how these skills relate to written communication. Our Speech Pathologists will assess your child’s literacy skills as well as their underlying language skills to determine the key areas that are negatively impacting their reading, writing and spelling. Therapy is tailored to each individual child, is designed to be fun and may incorporate working on word sounds, rules of spelling, reading fluency, writing sentences or stories and understanding what they have written.

We are able to offer literacy appointments before and after school, since we are open from 7 am to 7pm, which means children won’t lose any time at school in order to attend therapy sessions.

Social Skills

Social skills refer to the way in which we use qualities like communication, cooperation, listening, sharing, patience and acceptance of diversity to help us positively interact with others. Not only do good social skills enable us to get along well with other people, they can also play a role in how confident and happy we feel within ourselves. Since language, talking and listening are so intrinsic to the development of social skills, it stands to reason that children experiencing difficulties in these areas are also likely to suffer socially.

TLC-WA’s caring and empathic Speech Pathologists work closely with families to gain a deep understanding of how a child’s underdeveloped social skills are manifesting themselves and what sort of effects they are having on the child’s interaction with others. Our experienced clinicians can assess your child to identify the key areas of their language and speech that are letting them down and tailor practical strategies designed to deliver genuine outcomes.

Stuttering

Stuttering is a motor-speech condition, unrelated to emotional or psychological issues, and can range in severity from mild to severe. People who stutter have difficulty with the rhythm of speech, making it challenging for them to say what they are trying say. Stuttering tends to present in one of the following ways:

  • Repetition – when phrases, words, parts of words or letters are constantly repeated. For example, a stutterer attempting to say; ‘where are my shoes?’ may say ‘whe-whe-whe-where are my shoes?’ or ‘where are-where are-where are-where are my shoes?’ or ‘where are my sh-sh-sh-sh-shoes?’.
  • Prolongation – when words or sounds are stretched out longer than they should be such as ‘where are my shoooooes?’.
  • Blocking – when the stutterer struggles to get words out at all so is silent or relies on excessive use of filler words such ‘um’ or ‘you know’.
  • Physical Symptoms – when the stutterer experiences facial tics, muscle movements or irregular breathing when attempting to get their words out.

The onset of stuttering can be sudden or gradual and usually presents between toddlerhood and around five years of age, during which time a child’s language abilities are developing at an advanced rate. Stuttering can run in families and, for reasons unknown, more boys than girls are affected by the condition. The severity of the stutter can vary over time, seeming to disappear only to resurface days, weeks or months later.

Stuttering is readily treatable however the earlier it is diagnosed, and therapy is commenced, the more successful the outcomes tend to be. The TLC-WA team of Speech Pathologists have considerable expertise around stuttering and tailor therapy to the needs of each individual child. We rely on practical, evidence based interventions which, not only facilitate optimal outcomes, but also make the process an enjoyable one for both the child and their family.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

CAPD is a condition that is caused by an inability of the brain and ears to work together effectively to easily interpret sounds, particularly relating to speech. Children with CAPD usually hear normally since they can correctly identify sounds played in a quiet environment. Where they struggle is with recognising the differences in sounds when there is background noise, such as at school and in social situations.

CAPD can range in severity and can present in a number of ways including poor behaviour which improves in quieter settings, difficulties concentrating, trouble with reading, writing and spelling, speech difficulties, an inability to follow directions, general disorganisation and an inability to concentrate.

Left undiagnosed, CAPD can have a profoundly negative impact on language development, learning, literacy, behaviour and social skills. Significant improvements can be made by working with both Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists. TLC-WA’s experienced clinicians work collaboratively to accurately diagnose the condition and design tailored interventions which aim to reduce the impact of CAPD on a child’s learning and development.