Speech Pathology

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Speech Pathology

Those who practice Speech Pathology are known by many names; speech pathologists, speech-language pathologists, speech therapists and speech teachers.

Unfortunately, these terms don’t really help explain what it is we actually do.

As a speech pathologist we can work with people of all ages, from newborn babies all the way through to people of old age.

The field of speech pathology is just as diverse as the types of people we work with.

A ‘speechie’ can help with…

Speech (Articulation)

Expressive Language

Receptive Language






Social Skills

Speech Pathology - Speech (Articulation)

young girl sounding word into mirror

“Speech” refers to the way we pronounce the sounds in words. Children learn to say specific sounds at different ages, some sounds will develop later than others, so it’s common for them to make mistakes in the way they pronounce words.  As children get older, their speech gradually becomes clearer and easier to understand. A speech delay is when a child continues to make a speech sound error past the age by which that sound usually develops.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • is having difficulty making sounds expected for their age
  • has speech that is difficult to understand by familiar or unfamiliar communication partners
  • is leaving out some sounds in words
  • is becoming frustrated that they cannot be understood by others

Research shows that having speech sound difficulties puts children at a higher risk of experiencing long term literacy difficulties, so it is best to get advice early!

Chart of Andrea Cooper Speech Pathology Sound Development

Speech Pathology - Expressive Language

two young boys looking at book

While speech involves the physical motor ability to talk, expressive language refers to what it is your child is saying.  It is the way we get our message across to others. Expressive language takes both verbal and non-verbal forms, it can be sentences in conversation, gestures and body language that is used to communicate meaning and ideas, or it can be written in word/picture form.  Speech pathologists can help your child learn new words and help them to put these words together to form phrases and sentences.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • is delayed in using first words
  • has a limited vocabulary
  • uses only a few words in their sentences
  • has difficulty formulating or structuring sentences
  • uses incorrect grammar
  • has trouble expressing ideas clearly
  • becomes easily frustrated
  • primarily communicates through behaviour (crying, hitting)
  • has difficulty expressing ideas in their writing

Speech Pathology - Receptive Language

young boy in classroom with hand raised

Receptive language refers to your child’s ability to listen and understand language. Most often, young children have stronger receptive language skills than expressive language skills (they understand more than what they can say).

A speech pathologist can help teach your child new vocabulary and how to use that knowledge to follow directions, answer questions, and take part in conversations with others.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • is having trouble following instructions
  • has poor understanding of concepts e.g. before/after, first/last
  • has reduced memory retention of new information
  • becomes easily frustrated
  • has difficulty with problem solving skills
  • has poor comprehension

Speech Pathology - Literacy

teenaged girl doing homework

Literacy includes reading (accuracy, speed and comprehension), Spelling and Written expression.

This is one of our favourite areas to treat and assess at Andrea Cooper Speech Pathology! Andrea has extensive experience and knowledge in this area. We have up to date Australian assessments to test your child’s literacy skills.

Andrea has experience teaching literacy skills to preschool, primary school and high school students, she has also helped many adults improve their literacy skills.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • has difficulty with phonological awareness skills (sounding out words, blending sounds, knowing the name and sounds of letters, rhyming, etc.)
  • is able to read the words but can not recall, or understand what the sentence was about
  • regularly skips or guesses words when reading
  • has difficulty spelling words
  • does not like reading books
  • becomes overwhelmed or loses their place on the page when reading large texts
  • finds word problems in maths and science activities difficult
  • has difficulty writing sentences or paragraphs (using appropriate grammar, punctuation and detail)
  • difficulty putting their ideas and thoughts into their writing

Speech pathologists specialise in breaking down the language in instructions to help children with learning difficulties achieve success in their literacy skills.

At Andrea Cooper Speech Pathology we take a mixed approach to reading instruction. Current research states that this approach is important when helping children with reading and spelling difficulties. We use phonics and sight word approaches so that your child has a range of tools needed for literacy success!

Speech Pathology - Fluency (Stuttering)

young boy with hands over his mouth

A stutter is a break in the flow of speech, it can also be known as a ‘dysfluency’.

Everyone experiences dysfluencies in their speech. Some dysfluencies are normal, but having too many can actually significantly affect one’s ability to communicate (their intelligibility and confidence when communicating with others). It is common for stutters to first develop in childhood.   

Speech pathologists can teach your child strategies on how to manage this behaviour and thus increasing their speech fluency and intelligibility.

Current research suggests that early intervention is essential to treat a child’s stutter!

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • has repetitions of sounds or words
  • is dragging out sounds in words
  • appears to get ‘stuck’ on words
  • has facial tics or twitches when trying to communicate

Speech Pathology - Voice

young boy playing with letters on table

Using your voice is the most common way that we communicate. It provides the basic sound for speech and singing. We use our voice to express the meaning of what we want to say. Our voice quality can also tell others a lot about our emotions, personality and physical health. A speech pathologist can assess the tone, quality, pitch and volume of your voice.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • has a hoarse or breathy voice
  • has a voice that is ‘nasal’ sounding
  • coughs or clears their throat during and/or after talking
  • has a monotone speech pattern
  • has an inappropriate pitch or loudness (e.g. your child may use a loud voice when inside)
  • regularly loses their voice
  • has speech that is difficult to understand

Speech Pathology - Swallowing

toddler eating pasta with fork

Speech pathologists are also trained in swallowing and feeding issues.

This is because we have a thorough knowledge of the structures and functions of the oral cavities and beyond. We use the same muscles to talk as we do to swallow.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • has trouble attaching to bottle or breast
  • has difficulty coordinating sucking and swallowing
  • coughs or gags when eating or drinking
  • avoids certain foods
  • is a ‘messy eater’
  • has excessive dribbling

Speech Pathology - Communication Technology

man hugging other man in-front of tablet on table

Not all people use their voice to communicate.

If you think about it, the majority of us communicate everyday using text messages and emails.

For those who can not use their voice to communicate (often because of a disability) Augmentative and Alternative Communication (or AAC for short) is available to use.

AAC refers to all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. Sign language, speech generating devices and communication books (to name a few) are all part of AAC.

We all use AAC when we make facial expressions, gestures, symbols, pictures, written texts to communicate.

When speech pathologists are working with clients, our number one goal is always communication. Sometimes, a person may have such a severe delay or disorder, that traditional oral speech is not possible or is not functional. In these situations, a speechie may work with a child and their family to come up with an AAC system to use instead of, or with oral speech,.

Stephen Hawking was a famous user of AAC!

Speech Pathology - Social Skills

two children pulling hands while playing with toys

Social language (also known as pragmatics) refers to the way we use language to communicate with others, such as greeting others, requesting, protesting, asking questions to gain information, taking turns in conversation, using and reading appropriate body language, staying on topic, developing friendships, changing language according to the setting or different people we are talking to.

You should see a speech pathologist if your child:

  • finds making eye contact difficult
  • has difficulty taking turns in play and conversation
  • has difficulty using greetings
  • finds reading the facial expressions and body language of others difficult
  • is often inappropriate in a variety of situations
  • has difficulty staying on topic in conversation
  • finds developing friendships difficult
  • has difficulty understanding jokes and humour
  • has difficulty responding to questions


We are bound by Speech Pathology Australia’s Code of Ethics


We are registered providers with the National Disability Insurance Scheme