Paediatric Speech Pathology (PSP) is a team of speech pathologist who have been operating in the western suburbs of Melbourne since 2009. We offer clinic-based services as well as support in the school or kindergarten setting.
As a team we promote purposeful intervention, which means everything we do, from team discussions to planning a session with a child, is done with a specific outcome in mind.
Clinicians who work with children with disabilities want to ensure that they are making a difference in the child’s life. This means we aim to demonstrate our value by providing specific, measurable outcomes. We believe that the call for results-driven intervention has never been greater, and we are seeing firsthand how working with purpose can positively impact a child’s intervention outcomes.
PSP specialises in the diagnoses and treatment of children with communication disorders. This may manifest as difficulties with speaking, understanding, reading, demonstrating social skills, speaking fluently, and using voice appropriately

Assessment

The Speech Pathology team use a combination of informal and standardised testing to identify the child’s strengths and areas of improvement. We can provide assessment(s) in the areas of:

Depending on the child a formal standardised assessment may be chosen to compare their skills to same aged peers. This type of assessment can be used for PSD funding in schools or simply to gauge where a child lies in terms of their development in a particular area. If a child is not appropriate for formal assessment an informal assessment will be conducted. This can include observing the child during social interactions to playing with the child in a range of activities.
Once an assessment has been completed, a formal report will be completed within two weeks of the assessment and the therapist, along with the family, will create goals for their child centred around their developmental needs identified in the assessment.

Therapy Provisions

Our speech therapy can be conducted in a range of settings and modalities! We offer in-clinic sessions, telehealth sessions and school or kindergarten visits. Our therapists block out 45 minutes for each session – this includes 30 minutes of face-to-face time, and 15 minutes of admin and note-taking. We offer both individual or group therapy sessions to cater to your child’s needs, as well as offering group programs during school holiday periods which target conversation skills and strengthen social abilities. Our therapists also visit schools and kindergartens in the western suburbs of Melbourne. These sessions are available as 1-hour blocks, where the clinician will work with your child for 35 mins and provide 10-15 minutes of debrief time with the teacher discussing classroom management strategies. Travel time is also added onto these sessions to ensure we are catering for any time spent driving to and from the school.

Each child’s needs are different, however scientific evidence suggests that therapy is effective when the child is given time to process and consolidate what is learned during speech therapy, coupled with parent involvement at home. We offer fortnightly sessions to all of our clients to ensure your child is able to learn, consolidate and apply what we teach, whilst also ensuring we can service as many children as we can.
How can you engage with a child who has little language?
Our lovely and talented speech therapists have many ways to engage with children of all abilities! When interacting with a child with low language, we encourage use of gestures, eye contact and single words to engage the child in therapy. We use strategies like singing nursery rhymes, completing simple matching activities and pretend play to engage children with low language in our
therapy sessions.

Children can start therapy from as early as two years old. The therapy is adjusted to the child’s needs, to ensure it is as effective as possible for their age and ability.

Group therapy is a great way to expand a variety of skills in your child. Our group sessions often target social communication including conversation skills, play skills and problem solving. These sessions are often used to generalise the skills learned in individual sessions, to help support the child’s ability to apply social communication to real-world scenarios with peers of a similar age.

Articulation

Speech Pathologists support children articulate speech sounds more clearly and accurately so that they are better understood by others. We start by evaluating the child’s oral cavity, teeth, tongue, and mouth shape. We will assess their range and rate of movements as well assess the child’s speech sound repertoire and identify which sounds are expected to be produced clearly by the child’s given age. We then develop a therapy plan where we target the most crucial sounds and work with the child systematically to improve their production of each sound at a level of conversational speech. In having a conversation with the parents, we identify what is the most important sound to the family and to the child. It is important to consider which sounds are most delayed as well as which sounds the child uses most frequently. These factors will most likely have the biggest outcome on the child’s intelligibility. Once we identify what we are working on first, we elicit the sound on its own, followed by producing the sound at word level, then at sentence level followed by naturalising the sound at conversation level. When working on speech sounds, the frequency the new sound is practiced has a high impact on the outcome of the child’s intelligibility.

Normal Speech Sound Development

1-2 years old: /p/, /b/, /m/, /n/, /t/, /d/

2-3 years old: /f/, /k/, /g/

3-4 years old: /s/, /y/, /h/, /kw/

5 years old: //ch/, /j/, /l/, /y/ /sh/, /bl/

6 years old: /r/ /v/ /dr/ /br/ /fl/ /fr/ /gl/ /gr//kr/ /kl/ /pl/ /st/ tr/

Literacy

Many children with speech and/or language difficulties are quite likely to experience challenges with reading and writing. This is because speech, language and literacy are intricately linked. Speech Pathologists can early identify specific challenges a child may experience, by assessing and interpreting their early literacy skills or phonological awareness. This may include identifying if a child can break down syllables, split up a word into individual parts and differentiate both consonant both vowel sounds. The provision of direct therapy may form part of your child’s Family Service Plan. During the session we will introduce new concepts and tools to your child that will help break down the fundamentals of reading and spelling. These supports include:
o Introducing your child to books and texts that align with their interests
o Exploring language, words and sounds through play-based activities to build your child’s vocabulary, comprehension, speech and language skills.
o Utilising digital resources to build letter and sound recognition, develop spelling and reading skills)
o Utilising visuals to help your child build their understanding of sentence structures and narrative skills
o Sharing stories, videos and images with your child and asking ‘wh’ questions to help them make predictions based on the information that is available to them i.e. “What do you think will happen next?”

Language Disorder

Language disorders occur when children develop language at a slower pace as well as at a different sequential order to typical language development. Language disorders can present as a receptive language disorder (understanding language) or an expressive language disorder (using language) however typically present together. Children who have language disorders may have difficulties asking and answering questions, identifying and labelling items, following instructions, telling stories and expressing thoughts and feelings. It can impact the child’s ability to learn new concepts and it can impact their engagement in school and in home environments. It is important to have regular intervention as well as home practice to address language difficulties the child may have. Speech Pathologists work by identifying goals that the child needs support in through informal and formal assessments. Speech Pathologists then include games, books and other activities in sessions to target specific language goals. They also provide parents and families with training and simple activities that can be completed in the home environment to supplement therapy. Speech Pathologists often work with the child’s teachers and other therapists to develop strategies and joint goals to ensure that the child has the best possible outcomes and supports in different environments.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others and experiences in their environment (Autism Spectrum). Autism is a lifelong condition meaning that it is a condition they will have for life.

ASD is often related to physical and developmental challenges. This can include difficulties with receptive language (understanding) , expressive language (how they get their message across), social thinking, playing with others, emotional regulation, fine and gross motor skills.

Children with ASD may present with the following:

Difficulties with communication and language:

Difficulties with social skills:

Behaviours:

Many children with ASD will present vastly differently as the condition does not present the same in everyone. The term ‘spectrum’ to describe this difference across the different presentations. You could meet 10 people with ASD and they could all present very different from each other.

When a child receives an ASD diagnosis, they will receive the level indicating the level of support required. There are 3 levels:

Level 1: Requiring support
Level 2: Requiring substantial support
Level 3: Requiring very substantial support

FAQ'S

There is no clear evidence to determine what causes ASD although some possible conclusions are genetic or differences in brain development / function.

Children can start therapy from as early as two years old. The therapy is adjusted to the child’s needs, to ensure it is as effective as possible for their age and ability.

As all children present differently with ASD, speech therapy will also look different for each individual child. A speech pathologist will discuss with you what your communication, language and social skills concerns are for your child and create goals around these concerns.
Speech pathologist can work on early language (engaging joint attention, saying single words), preschool language (working on answering questions, concepts such as big, little, same, different), speech sounds (ensuring your child can say all their sounds so they can communicate), fluency (ensuring your child has clear smooth speech), social skills (interacting with others), communicating emotions and pre-literacy skills.

Your speech pathologist will work with you and your child to establish the best way for your child to communicate with you. Sometimes head nods and gestures are not enough for your child to communicate their message effectively so using another additional method can create more opportunities for your child to communicate. This may include using Alternative Access Communication (AAC). AAC can include high tech and low tech AAC.

Low tech AAC is:
– Using pictures to communicate
– Communication book
– Paper and pen
– Core words board

High tech AAC is:
– Apps on the iPad designed for your child to press buttons that speak for them

Using an alternative method of speech does not replace a child’s natural communication modes. Introduction of AAC has evidence to prove it often assists develop a child’s speech faster than if no AAC was used.