Questions about speech pathology

Ask Us Anything: 17 things our readers and followers really want to know about speech pathology (but were too shy to ask)!

For more than seven years we’ve been writing about evidence-based speech pathology assessments and treatments for children and adults. Our website has had more than 1.3 million views, and we hope we’ve helped share useful information with families and adults who are considering speech therapy. 

Whenever two clients ask us the same question, we write an article about it. But, sometimes, a gap opens between what we might think people want to know, and what people actually want to know. Sometimes, clients, readers and followers may not want to ask us a question directly because it might be, well, difficult or even embarrassing.

By looking at the questions people actually use when searching for us, we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to work harder to figure out what people want. So, in this article, we try to answer our readers’ 17 most frequently asked questions about speech pathology. (For context, we include real world examples of what people searched to get to us.) 

Why 17 questions and not, say, 10 or 20? Well 17 is as many as we could answer this weekend! (We may keep adding to this article when we get more time.)

Why these questions and not others? These are simply the most common things people ask about. They are not necessarily the things I thought people would want to know, which is of course the point of this article.  

Disclaimer: Obviously, our answers are ours, based on our experiences managing a speech pathology clinic and working with children and adults in Sydney, Australia, and by telehealth. We do not pretend to speak for the whole profession in all settings, globally: others will no doubt have different views on some of these questions.

1. Is speech therapy the same as speech pathology?

Yes

An easy one to start with!

Speech pathologists and speech therapists are the same people. Speech pathology and speech therapy are the same thing. I use both terms to describe what I do. I use the terms speech therapy and speech pathology interchangeably because. They. Mean. The. Same. Thing!

Searches: Speech pathology vs speech therapy. Speech pathologist vs speech therapist. Speech therapy vs speech pathology. Speech pathology and therapy. Speech pathology or communication disorders. Speech pathologist v therapist. Speech pathology or therapy? Speech pathology v therapy.

2. What are speech pathologists? What do speech pathologists do?

We are professionals who are university-trained to help people with communication challenges, including speech and language difficulties. We work with children and adults; from babies to senior citizens. For example, in our clinic, we work with late talkers, preschoolers, school-aged children, teenagers, young professionals, middle-aged adults, and seniors with communication issues. 

Not all speech therapists work with everyone. At Banter Speech & Language, we work with adults and children from many walks of life, including:

Many speech pathologists – not us – work with people with feeding and swallowing difficulties and disorders. We do not practice in this area. (We refer people with swallowing disorders on to speech pathologists who do that work every day.)

Searches: What speech pathologist do? What’s speech pathology? What is speech pathologist? What speech therapy do? Speech pathology meaning.

3. When should I speak with a speech pathologist?

For children, here are some rules of thumb

In general, we suggest you speak with a speech pathologist:

  • if communication challenges are getting in the way of what you or your child want to achieve; or
  • when communication challenges are stopping you or your child from fully participating in life; or
  • if you have any concerns about your communication skills or the communication skills of a child or someone you are caring for.

Searches: When speech pathology needed? Speech therapy where to start? Why speech pathology is important. Why speech pathology?

4. How does speech pathology work?

Here’s our overview of how speech pathology for children works.

Here’s our overview of how language therapy for children works

Here are two overviews for how reading and dyslexia interventions work:   

Here’s our overview of speech pathology treatments for adults who stutter.

Here’s our overview of speech pathology for preschoolers who stutter.

Here’s our overview of speech pathology for school-aged children who stutter.

Here’s our overview of how principles of motor speech and neuroplasticity can help adults improve their speech

Here’s our overview of how speech pathology can help people with Parkinson’s Disease

Many (not all) speech pathology treatments are based on behaviourist scientific principles. You can real more about these principles here

Most of our articles focus on why speech pathology works, so look around our website if none of the articles above answer your question.

Searches: How speech pathology work. How speech therapy works. What works speech therapy? Speech therapy interventions. Speech therapy help. Speech therapy techniques. Speech therapy tools. Speech pathologist assessment.

5. Can speech therapy help toddlers?

Yes.

This is a very – VERY – common question from our readers.

Here’s what we want parents of late talkers to know.  

Here’s our overview of how we assess toddlers.

Here are some principles we use to help families:

Searches: Will speech pathology help my toddler? What’s speech therapy for toddlers? Will speech therapy help my child talk? Speech therapy for toddlers at home. Speech therapy 2 year old. Speech therapy for toddlers. Speech therapy for 2 year old. What is speech pathology like for toddlers? Speech therapy books for toddlers. Speech therapy toys for 2 year olds. Speech therapy words. Will speech pathology help my child talk? Speech pathology with toddlers. When speech pathology for toddler?

6. Can speech therapy help preschoolers?

Yes.

Here is some information about how and when preschoolers typically learn their speech sounds.  

Here is some information about preschoolers’ speech sound error patterns (and when they should disappear).

Here’s how unclear speech can affect later reading outcomes

Here’s our overview of why speech and language are so important for school readiness:

Here an overview of three evidence-based treatments we use to treat speech sound issues: 

Here are overviews of some common language targets for preschoolers, including:

Here’s an overview of the Lidcombe Program for preschoolers who stutter

Searches: Speech therapy for 3 year old. Speech therapy for kids. Speech therapy for child. Speech therapy exercises for a 3 year old at home. Will speech pathology help my 3 year old.

7. Can speech pathology help kids at school?

Yes

But we are not teachers or tutors, as we explain here.

Here are some overviews of speech therapy interventions for common issues including:

We’ve also written about common related issues like working memory, auditory processing disorder, ADHD, sleep disorders and social and emotional issues.

We’ve also published tips for teachers and others working with students with language, reading and learning disorders, social skills and Do-It-Yourself evidence-based study techniques

Some children have residual speech sound issues, which cause ongoing social and employment issues. We’ve written about it here.

Searches: Will speech pathology help? Will speech pathology help my child? Speech pathologist schools. Speech pathologist and academic. Speech pathologist and vocabulary. Higher level language.

8. Can Speech pathologists help with dyslexia and other reading difficulties?

Yes

We’ve written a free book for parents about this.

Since then, we’ve added more information:

  • We outline our approach to teaching children to read here
  • We outline what to do if your child is struggling to read and what works here.  

Searches: Speech therapy for dyslexia. Speech therapy reading difficulties.

9. Can speech pathology help with lisps?

Yes.

For our overview of lisps, including an explanation of different types of lisp, see our FAQs.

For our home program for children who have interdental lisps, see our Pesky Lisp Fixer.

For our home program for children who have lateral lisps, see our Slushy /s/ Zapper.

For adults who lisp, see our Lisp Fixer online course.

Searches: Can speech therapy get rid of a lisp? Speech therapy lisp. Speech therapy s sound. Can speech pathologist fix a lisp?

10. Can speech pathology help my child to say sounds properly?

Yes.

For an overview of speech sound treatments, see here.

For information about when children should be able to say each sound, see here.

For information about common error patterns like leaving out sounds and ‘gliding’ of /r/, /l/ and ‘y’ (/j/) sounds (and when they should be gone), see here

For a home program for trouble with the /r/ and/or /w/ sounds, see our /r/ Remedy.

Searches: Speech therapy can’t say r. Speech therapy r sound. Speech therapy r sounds like w. Speech therapy k sound. Speech therapy letter l. Speech therapy y sound.

11. Can speech pathologists help with mumbling?

Yes

The first step is to find out what is contributing to it – is it caused by difficulties with speech sounds or a language problem (or both), or something else? Are other things, like hearing difficulties, middle ear infections, or tonsil and adenoid problems contributing? A speech pathologist can help you get to the bottom of what’s going on and treat speech sound issues.

Behavioural speech therapy may be an option when there are no speech sound or physical issues contributing to the mumbling. For children with no speech sound issues, we have a simple home program – Mumble Buster.

Searches: Speech therapy to stop mumbling. How to stop mumbling.

12. Can speech pathology help with stuttering?

Yes.

Stuttering and stammering mean the same thing. You can read more here.

Many young children recover from stuttering, although recovery means different things to different people.

If you have a child who is stuttering, should you wait and see what happens? No. Here’s why.

There is – as yet – no cure for stuttering. But there are several treatments available to help people manage stuttering and its effects.

  • For preschoolers, see here.
  • For school-age children, see here.
  • For adults, see here.

Searches: Can speech therapy cure stuttering? Can speech therapy help with stuttering? Speech therapy to stop stuttering. Can speech pathologist cure stuttering?

13. Can speech pathology help me with my accent?

Yes.

Accent modification is controversial and often unnecessary. There is no one right way to speak English (or any other language). English is a global language, and we should celebrate local differences, like Singlish or Indian English, rather than criticise them.

Sometimes, accents get in the way of being understood. Sometimes, they can get in the way of important life goals like getting a job or a promotion. For most adults, ‘getting rid of an accent’ is not realistic. But there are evidence-based principles of clear speech that can help increase your intelligibility and comprehensibility while staying true to yourself and your heritage.

Here’s our overview of how speech therapy can help people to modify their accents

Here are things you can do to increase your intelligibility.

Here’s why some people choose to modify their accents

Search: Speech therapy to lose accent.

14. Can speech pathologists and speech pathology be more convenient for people?

Yes.

The great thing with technological advances in recent years is that we can provide speech therapy anywhere. We have lots of rural and international clients, including in remote areas without another service.

We can use Zoom, Skype, Coviu, or Google Meet or Hangouts to help children and adults in their homes by telehealth. Speech pathology is nearby anyone with an Internet connection!

We’ve been doing stuttering therapy by telehealth for years.

We also make home programs and online courses for people who want to do speech therapy in their home. A good example of this is our self-paced preschool language readiness course.

Searches: Speech therapy nearby. Speech therapy with Google Meet. Speech therapy with Zoom. Speech therapy with Skype. Speech therapy with Coviu. Speech therapy via Zoom. Speech therapy via Skype. Speech therapy to do at home. Speech therapy with distance learning. Speech therapy online. Speech therapy online courses. Speech therapy telehealth. Can speech pathologists travel? Speech pathology to do at home? Speech pathology telehealth.

15. Do you need a referral to see a speech therapist?

No

You can call and have a chat with us any time Monday-Saturday. If you decide to book in, you do not need a referral and can get started straight away.

For people with reading difficulties, you do not need to wait for a formal diagnosis of dyslexia to get started. Evidence-based treatment for reading difficulties is the same for people with and without a formal diagnosis of dyslexia, and the earlier you get started, the better.

To get in touch with us, go here.

Searches: Do you need referral for speech pathologist? Speech pathology without IEP.

16. Are rebates and insurance available?

This depends on your circumstances, but usually, in Australia, yes. You can read more about rebates and insurance here.

Searches: Speech pathology Medicare. Speech pathology private health insurance.

17. Where can I find quality speech pathology resources, exercises, worksheets and games?

Here. We love to share our knowledge and to make practical resources to help people.  

We’ve seen a surge of interest in our therapy resources recently, both from families and other speech pathologists. Our library of resources continues to grow. 

By way of overview, we have published:

And we’re just getting started!

Searches: Speech therapy activities. Speech pathology facts. Speech therapy books. Speech pathology blog. Speech therapy books for parents. Speech therapy tips for parents. Speech therapy exercises for 3 year olds at home. Speech therapy games. Speech therapy game apps. Speech therapy home exercises. Speech therapy materials. Speech therapy materials pdf. Speech therapy online free. Speech therapy pictures. Speech therapy questions. Speech therapy resources. Speech therapy resources for parents. Speech therapy sentences. Speech therapy toys. Speech therapy videos. Speech therapy worksheets. Speech therapy websites. Speech therapy webinars. Speech therapy YouTube. Speech therapy you can do at home. Speech therapy courses. Speech pathology images.

Any unexpected searches you came across?

Yes. Here are our four favourites, with our answers in brackets:

  • Is speech pathology hard? (Yes. It is.)
  • Is speech pathology a good career? (Yes. It’s great.)
  • Can speech pathologists have tattoos? (Of course.)
  • Speech pathologist with a dog. (You must be looking for someone else. We’re cat people!)

Bottom line

With this website, we set out to make speech pathology less mysterious and more transparent. This whole enterprise exists to share quality information with you about speech pathology and to answer your questions. We welcome any questions you may have about speech pathology, speech therapists or communication disorders – even tricky and confronting ones. 

Readers and followers: You can ask us anything!

David

Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.

Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

David Kinnane
Speech-Language Pathologist. Lawyer. Father. Reader. Writer. Speaker.

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