What is a Speech Pathologist?
Speech Pathologists assess, diagnose and treat people who have communication and/or swallowing difficulties. Communication difficulties may be evident in:
- The production of speech sounds. The speech might be ‘choppy’, ‘mumbled’ or have a very slow rate. There could be interruption in the flow of speaking with repetition of certain sounds.
- The language. The use of words and sentence structure when talking and writing may be affected, or the understanding of spoken and written language (reading) is limited for some reason.
- The voice. The production of the voice may be abnormal and cause stress on the vocal cords. The vocal quality, pitch, loudness and resonance may be affected.
- A hearing problem may limit the development, comprehension, production and/or maintenance of speech and language.
- Difficulties with swallowing (dysphagia) may be related to:
- The oral phase, when food is in the mouth. Sucking, chewing and moving of food or liquid into the throat may be affected.
- The pharyngeal phase, when food is in the pharynx (the throat). Mechanisms that may be affected are the swallowing reflex, the squeezing of food into the throat and the closing of the airway to prevent food from entering the airway.
- The oesophageal phase, when food is squeezed through the oesophagus (the muscular tube from the throat to the stomach).
Who can refer you to a Speech Pathologist?
- General Practitioners
- Medical Specialists
- Maternal and Child Health Nurses
- Kindergarten and School Teachers
- Other professionals and community health organisations
- Post acute rehabilitation admission
- Self referral
Where a voice problem is present, an assessment by an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist is preferred before you see the Speech Pathologist.
Your Health Hub Speech Pathology Service
Will work with people who;
- have been diagnosed with a voice disorder
- experience problems or are unhappy with their speaking voice
- want to improve their speech and/or voice technique to gain confidence when communicating
- wish to reduce or modify their accent to achieve what they think is a more desirable pronunciation
- have aphasia and/or dysphagia following stroke
- have speech difficulties and/or dysphagia due to progressive neurological conditions