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Ways a speech pathologist can help your child

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A speech pathologist is a health professional who works with people who have communication or swallowing difficulties. They can work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and private practice.

Speech pathologists offer a range of services including individual or group sessions, home-based programs and classroom support. They often work alongside a client’s family or in a multidisciplinary team (including occupational therapists, audiologists, and teachers) to help a client reach their therapy goals.

How can a speech pathologist help my child?

  1. Expressive language skills

This refers to your child’s ability to join words to form sentences. Difficulties in expressive language can affect a child’s ability to get their message across, in spoken or written language. By age 5, a child should be intelligible to those around them, even to people who are unfamiliar with your child’s speech.

A speech pathologist can assist your child by teaching them new vocabulary, and showing them ways to use this knowledge to form phrases and sentences.

  1. Receptive language skills

Receptive language is your child’s ability to understand the words they hear or read. Difficulties in receptive language can include problems following instructions, answering questions, as well as attention or behavioural difficulties.

Speech pathologists can assist your child by teaching them new words and introducing strategies to help them participate in simple conversations.

  1. Stuttering

Stuttering is when speech is interrupted by repeated sounds, words, or phrases. Stuttering may also include prolongation or blocking of sounds and secondary behaviours such as eye blinking, grimacing, or jerking body movements.

Some children will naturally recover from stuttering, but it is difficult to identify whether this will be your child or not. So it is important that treatment for stuttering should begin sometime within 12 months of stuttering onset. A speech pathologist can teach a child and their family management strategies according to the Lidcombe Program of Early Stuttering Intervention, which is currently the strongest treatment program for children less than 6 years of age who stutter.

  1. Cognitive-communication skills

These include processes such as memory, attention, and abstract reasoning. A speech pathologist can assist your child by finding strategies to help build these skills or teach ways to manage or compensate any difficulties.

  1. Social/pragmatic language

This refers to the way an individual uses language to communicate. It involves being able to follow rules of conversation (such as turn taking, topic maintenance, non/verbal cues), changing language according to context, and using language to communicate in different ways (for example, greeting others, requesting).

A speech pathologist can teach your child social language skills, and it may be beneficial for your child to participate and practise these skills in a group setting.

Early intervention is recommended for most cases, so please seek a speech pathologist as soon as difficulties begin to appear.


Chatterbox Speech Pathology. (2008). Receptive language. Retrieved August 31, from

Speech Pathology Australia. (2014). What is a speech pathologist? Retrieved from August 31, from

State Government of Victoria. (2015). Speech pathologists. Retrieved August 31, from

The University of Sydney. (2015). What is stuttering. Retrieved August 31, from

Yeh, K. (2013). 10 ways a speech language pathologist can help your child.Retrieved August 31, from

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