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?
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!
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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:
- people with speech sound problems like lisps, phonological speech sound disorders, motor speech difficulties like childhood apraxia of speech and other difficulties being understood by others;
- people with developmental language delays and disorders;
- people with reading difficulties, including dyslexia;
- people with lifelong language, speech or other communication challenges associated with lifelong disorders or disabilities, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and Down Syndrome;
- people with communication disorders like aphasia, dysarthria or cognitive communication issues caused by strokes or traumatic brain injuries;
- people with communication challenges associated with neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and dementia; and
- people who want to improve their communication skills, e.g. to be understood or to write more effectively at school or work.
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.)
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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.
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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.
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5. Can speech therapy help toddlers?
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:
- First words
- Techniques you can use at home to help your toddler or late talker
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6. Can speech therapy help preschoolers?
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 our overview of why speech and language are so important for school readiness:
- What teachers want (is your child ready for school)?
- Is your child ready for school? What matters most.
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:
- classification and categories;
- indirect requests;
- following directions;
- complex syntax;
- building background knowledge;
- dialogic reading;
- print awareness;
- phonological awareness; and
- alphabet knowledge, to name a few.
Here’s an overview of the Lidcombe Program for preschoolers who stutter.
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7. Can speech pathology help kids at school?
But we are not teachers or tutors, as we explain here.
Here are some overviews of speech therapy interventions for common issues including:
- reading difficulties;
- reading comprehension issues;
- Tier 2 and academic vocabulary;
- writing; and
- higher level oral language like homophones, homonyms, homographs, metaphors and similes, analogies, idioms, sayings, and discourse level tasks like narratives.
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.
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8. Can Speech pathologists help with dyslexia and other reading difficulties?
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?
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.
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10. Can speech pathology help my child to say sounds properly?
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.
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11. Can speech pathologists help with mumbling?
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.
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12. Can speech pathology help with stuttering?
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.
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13. Can speech pathology help me with my accent?
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?
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.
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15. Do you need a referral to see a speech therapist?
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.
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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.
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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:
- hundreds of free, evidence-based articles and speech pathology facts on this blog, including speech therapy games and reinforcements, and parent tips and strategies;
- free books for parents about speech pathology and reading;
- a popular free eBook with therapy activities for the Lidcombe Program for children who stutter;
- a free vocabulary scaffold;
- free speech sound cards;
- free carrier phrases for language, stuttering and voice therapy;
- free picture description and image-based resources for telehealth;
- a free story-builder scaffold for narrative writing;
- a free online course about higher level language;
- a free video library of early prepositions for toddlers;
- a self-paced online preschool language readiness workshop for children aged 3 years and older;
- a book of evidence based communication tips for parents of babies and toddlers;
- a Blanks levels of questioning resource library for preschoolers and young school-aged students;
- Listen then Speak, an oral language course for children in Years 2-5, including 10 fully scripted therapy slide-pack books;
- an online library of scripted resources: Exam and Essay Verbs students in high school should know;
- an audio and therapy material library for consonant clusters for Developmental, Contrast, Cycles, and Complexity approaches;
- Level Up Your Language, a fully scripted higher level language course, including five therapy slide packs;
- a wide range of simple, compound and complex sentence builders to help children and adults master English syntax;
- home programs for interdental lisps, lateral lisps and the gliding of ‘r’;
- the Lisp Fixer, an online lisp correction course for adults;
- free letter-sound link videos focusing on direct instruction of the extended code;
- 7 free mini-decodable stories to check if your Kindergarten kid is really decoding the basic code;
- a series of ‘select a sequel’ decodable readers for working on the extended code and reading fluency at the same time – the first one is free here;
- a large (and growing) library of therapy and intervention resources on our Teachers Pay Teachers store; and
- a Lidcombe Program starter series for preschoolers.
And we’re just getting started!
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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!)
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!
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.