WORDS: Lauren Jones, Director and Senior Speech Language Pathologist at SPOT Paediatrics
“Oh, so you work with kids who have lisps, right?”
Inevitably when I tell someone what I do, this is one of the most likely responses. I’m a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) working in the paediatric sector, and I’ve found over the years that most people are generally unsure of the roles SLPs play in the allied health community. Although we are often called “speech therapists” or “speechies” many of us spend a lot of time helping individuals to develop many skills in addition to speech clarity or articulation. So, what do Speech Language Pathologists do?
Speech Language Pathologists in general have very diverse scopes of practice. We have expertise in a variety of settings and are involved in the care and support of individuals from birth right through to end of life. Chances are, you know someone who has been supported by an SLP at some point in their lives!
So why would children need an SLP?
In the paediatric sector alone, the breadth of support provided by SLPs is extensive. Some children may require help in a single area, while others need assistance more globally. SLPs support children with:
- Speech: Supporting children to appropriately produce speech sounds, and helping children to develop fluent speech (e.g. stuttering)
- Language: Supporting early communication/language skills, assisting children to develop their understanding of language (receptive language), and providing support when children have difficulty expressing wants, needs, thoughts, ideas and feelings (expressive language).
- Play: Play is integral to language and social development. SLPs support the development of early play and communication skills.
- Social Skills: Helping children to develop an awareness of themselves and others and supporting them to develop their social communication skills in order to increase meaningful and successful social interactions.
- Literacy: Assisting children who experience challenges with reading, spelling, and reading comprehension.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): Providing support and education around the use of additional tools and systems that may help children to communicate successfully. SLPs provide assessment and implementation of AAC systems for children who find verbal communication difficult, this may include visuals, language boards, picture exchange systems, or high-tech voice output devices.
- Feeding: Supporting families with mealtime challenges. Some professionals may also be highly skilled in working with children who have challenges related to swallowing disorders.
If you’re concerned your child may need some support from an SLP you’re able to get in touch with a professional without the need for a referral. Our community is full of wonderful therapists, and the most important consideration is finding someone that your child is able to build a positive relationship with and who you feel hears your concerns as a parent.
For more information about Speech Language Pathologists: