Speech pathologists work with people of all ages who have difficulty with communication and/or swallowing/feeding.
On this page:
- Visiting a speech pathologist – Overview
- How do I know if we need to visit a speech pathologist?
- What happens when a child visits a speech pathologist?
- How do I find a speech pathologist?
Visiting a speech pathologist – Overview
Speech pathologists help children and adults with:
- speech (pronunciation and perception of sounds)
- language (vocabulary, sentences, grammar)
- early literacy skills (supporting reading, spelling, and developing knowledge between letters and sounds)
- fluency (stuttering)
- voice difficulties (hoarse voice, vocal nodules)
- feeding (transitioning to solid food, bottle feeding, safe swallowing and feeding)
- swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
Speech pathologists help children and adults develop communication and eating skills and support families, carers, educators and others to help.
Speech pathologists work in a range of settings, including community health centres, hospitals, educational settings, early intervention, and private practice.
Speech pathologists have university training and are also called speech-language pathologists, speech and language therapists, and speech therapists in other parts of the world.
When visiting a speech pathologist you may come across terms you are not familiar with. Click here for definitions of common speech pathology words (glossary).
How do I know if we need to visit a speech pathologist?
If you have concerns that a child is not listening or talking like other children their age, you can refer to a speech pathologist for further advice.
For information about what to expect from children at different ages, visit the Communication Milestones page on the Speech Pathology Australia website (under ‘Resources for the Public’).
What happens when a child visits a speech pathologist?
Speech pathologists often assess children by playing games or activities with them or showing them pictures while observing and listening to their talking. They will ask parents/caregivers questions about their concerns and about the child’s development. Sometimes assessment can take more than one session.
Speech pathologists then discuss options about will happen next. Children may be referred to other health professionals who look at different aspects of development (e.g., audiologist for a hearing assessment, paediatrician, physiotherapist, or occupational therapist). There may be some other services that children can access to support their development. Speech pathologists also explain if children should access therapy, and where, when, and how often this is likely to occur. Some children may be reviewed at a later time to see how they are progressing.
Speech pathologists work with important people in children’s lives (e.g., parents, educators) to set intervention goals. Speech pathologists work with children on their specific areas of difficulty during games and activities in sessions. They demonstrate activities and strategies to help children achieve success and improve in their area/s of difficulty. They recommend activities that can be done at home and school in everyday life to help children with their speech, language, and literacy development.
For more information about what to expect when visiting a speech pathologist, click here.
Tip: Speech pathologists will often ask if your child has had their hearing checked. You can screen your child’s hearing using the Sound Scouts app.
How do I find a speech pathologist?
To find a speech pathology service near you, please contact your local community health centre or visit the Speech Pathology Australia website.