Signs your child needs a Speech Pathologist


A speech pathologist can see a child for a range of reasons but how do you know when to seek out help? This week is Speech Pathology Week – which aims to raise awareness about how speech pathologists work with children, young people and adults- and Maree Rowan from Sydney Therapy & Co. shares her expertise.


When to see a speech pathologist

Tips on early signs to look out for with your child and discuss with a speech pathologist.

Little Ones (0-5yrs)

  • Difficulty in understanding the child’s speech sounds after 24 months of age
  • Lack of understanding in following instructions and commands
  • Slower to understand and use new words
  • Not showing interest in communicating or social interaction
  • Stuttering patterns such as repeating words, phrase or long pauses
  • Excessive drooling
  • Problems sucking, chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulties coordinating lips, tongue, jaw
  • Failure to respond to sounds, noises or ignores signals

Middle Kids (6-12yrs)

  • Struggling to retain and use concepts (location, time, colours,)
  • Difficulty keeping up with the language demands of the classroom
  • Using immature grammar and sentences (“he runned away”)
  • Showing difficulty in expressing thoughts and using non-specific words (thingy, stuff, um)
  • Not following classroom or home instructions with multiple steps
  • Difficultly engaging conversations with others, recognising social cues (turn taking, staying on topic)
  • Poor progress in spelling, writing and reading (accuracy and pace) for age appropriate levels
  • Lack of comprehension when reading, despite reading ability
  • Trouble organising thoughts verbally or in writing to sequence ideas

Quick Breakdown of Literacy Skills: Phonics, Phonemics, and Phonological Awareness

Phonics link the written letter (e.g. ‘b’) to the sound it makes (‘buh’).

It is what we commonly teach preschoolers:

  • The letter names of the alphabet
  • What the letter looks like when it is written
  • What sound it makes

Sydney Therapy & Co use the Spalding Approach to help develop strong literacy skills beyond the age of preschoolers! The Spalding Approach is a systematic way to help teach students reading, writing and is perfect for students with dyslexia.

Phonemic awareness refers to the understanding that words are made up of individual sounds, e.g. “cat” = “c – a – t” or “bear” starts with a ‘buh’. Phonemic awareness is important for children to decode unfamiliar words by “sounding it out”. Having this knowledge allows a child to learn phonics easier and connects sounds to print.

If you think about it, it is an enormous task for a child to undertake. There are 26 letters, making approximately 40 sounds (phonemes) and 250 different common spelling combinations!

Phonological awareness is a big umbrella term covering all of the above and more! Generally speaking, phonological awareness refers to a child’s ability to play with sounds in words. It involves:

  • Rhyme awareness
  • Syllable blending and segmenting
  • Using sounds in words
  • Blending sounds to make a word “c – a – t”
  • Deleting sounds to create new words e.g. “say ‘chair’ without the ‘ch’ = ‘air’”
  • Adding sounds to create new words e.g. “add ‘e’ to the end of ‘Tim’ = ‘time’”
  • Changing sounds to create new words e.g. “swap the ‘s’ to a ‘d’ in ‘sad’ = ‘dad’”

For more information and tips and tricks, follow Sydney Therapy & Co on Facebook or visit their website.


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