SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Speech pathologists are university educated allied health professionals that help people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties.
- Speech pathologists often work in a team with other health professionals.
- You usually do not need a referral to see a speech pathologist.
Speech pathologists work with people, their family and carers, other professionals, and the community to improve the lives of people with communication and/or swallowing/mealtime difficulties.
People with communication and/or swallowing disability often find it hard to do many things that a lot of us take for granted. These may include speaking clearly, sending an email, ordering and enjoying a morning coffee etc. These limitations can restrict participation in everyday life.
In addition to these challenges, people sometimes react negatively when others have communication and/or eating/drinking abilities different to their own. These attitudes and assumptions can be barriers to people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties leading full and productive lives, and enjoying being active members of their communities.
Speech pathologists work with people of all ages who have communication and/or swallowing difficulties. They often work in a team with other health professionals to help people with their speech, voice, using and understanding language, interacting with others, fluency, reading, spelling, using technological and other communication devices and aids, and safely and efficiently eating and drinking.
Benefits of speech pathology
People who can benefit from speech pathology include:
- babies born with a or other oro-facial differences (speech pathologists can give advice about feeding and communication)
- pre-schoolers who are not developing communication skills at the expected rate, or have unusual speech characteristics
- people who have a developmental language disorder (DLD) and need support to talk and understand others and communicate effectively
- people who have difficulties with their speech including
- Neurodiverse people such as those with autism
- children who are finding it hard to learn to read and spell
- people with hearing and/or vision loss, and those who communicate with them
- people who
- professional voice users (e.g. teachers, singers, call centre workers)
- people with an due to a car accident, , etc
- people at risk of choking or who have difficulty eating or drinking safely
- people with physical, , and/or sensory disabilities
- people who find it hard, or are unable to communicate through speech and use alternative or augmentative communication (AAC) methods instead (e.g. an electronic communication device, communication board, etc)
- people with neurological conditions that get worse over time (e.g. , , etc)
- people that need surgery to remove cancer of the tongue, voice box/larynx etc.
Where speech pathologists work
Speech pathologists can work in several settings, including:
- kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools
- rehabilitation services
- community health centres
- the justice system
- private practices/clinics
- people’s homes
- services for people with complex communication needs due to conditions such as , , and intellectual disability.
You do not usually need a referral to see a speech pathologist. A referral may be required to access some services or funding sources e.g Medicare.
Types of speech pathology services
The types of services that speech pathologists offer include:
- assessment and diagnosis of communication and swallowing/mealtime difficulties
- working with a person, their family and/or carers to develop tailored advice, activities, exercises, and strategies that can help them achieve their communication and/or swallowing goals
- individual treatment
- small group sessions
- home-based programs
- classroom programs and teacher support
- providing resources and advice to families and carers
- consulting with staff in organisations such as , schools, kindergartens, disability services, volunteer organisations etc
- educating the community about communication and swallowing difficulties, the types of interventions available, and how we can all make a difference to the lives of people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties.
The Speech Pathology Australia '' search function enables you to search for speech pathologists in your area, and you can narrow your search by selecting functions such as practice type, clinical population, services or area of special interest.