When to Seek Speech Therapy Support
It can be difficult to know when to seek Speech Therapy support, especially if it’s an area of health that you’ve never really had to think about! In fact, for many of our speech therapy clients, before seeing us they had never heard of a Speech Pathologist – let alone the many things we do to help people with communication and swallowing difficulties!
While you won’t need a doctor’s referral to access Speech Pathology services, it can be helpful to get professional insight on some of the signs and symptoms that there may be difficulties with communication or swallowing.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the early signs of challenges for both kids and adults that a Speech Pathologist could help with. This will help you to know when to seek speech therapy as well as what speech therapy usually involves.
When to Seek Speech Therapy for Kids
Here at SpeechEase, we believe in the importance of early intervention for little ones experiencing communication difficulties. There are helpful communication milestone checklists for children aged 12 months to 5 years provided by Speech Pathology Australia. These milestones will give you an insight into whether or not your child is reaching certain communication milestones expected for children their age.
If you do notice that your child isn’t reaching their age-appropriate milestones, it is worth speaking with a Speech Pathologist to organise an assessment to see if there is any underlying condition that could be impacting them. In some cases, communication challenges could be caused by hearing difficulties, so a hearing test is usually one of the first steps we would recommend if your child isn’t speaking clearly or as expected for their age.
Swallowing and oral aversions can also be a reason to seek Speech Therapy for kids. If your little one is experiencing difficulties with chewing and swallowing food and/or fluids or you’ve noticed your little one has a restricted range of foods that they will accept or mealtimes feel like a challenge you’d rather avoid most of the time , a Speech Pathologist can help. It’s very important for swallowing difficulties to be looked at early from a lung safety perspective (i.e. we don’t want food or drink “going the wrong way” which means into the lungs), but also because of the influence that feeding can have on the development of the muscles used for speech production and having a health relationship with food into the future.
When to Seek Speech Therapy for Adults
Knowing when to seek Speech Therapy for adults typically revolves around a diagnosis. Most the time we’ll see adult clients in our clinics after experiencing a stroke or other brain injury that has resulted in communication or swallowing difficulties.
Adults may also be diagnosed with neurodegenerative conditions that impact their speech and swallowing (like Parkinson’s Disease) which we can support with evidence-based speech therapy approaches.
Overall, the sooner adult clients can access Speech Therapy after a diagnosis or onset of a condition, the better. As an example, an adult with Parkinson’s Disease would be encouraged to seek Speech Therapy for Adults when they begin to struggle with their communication (i.e., they’re noticed speaking too quietly or their voice is hoarse/monotone). Adults may also notice difficulties with eating and drinking that lead to Speech Therapy intervention – coughing, choking incidents, and frequent chest infections can indicate that someone isn’t eating or drinking safely.
At SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we often focus on helping our adult clients to achieve goals like:
- Finding the right words when they speak
- Planning what they’re going to say
- Making their speech sounds clear or loud
- Using the telephone
- Having a voice that is heard without straining
- Enjoying the food and drink that they like
How Does Speech Therapy Work?
Speech Therapy is a targeted, evidence-based intervention that is used to support clients with communication or swallowing conditions. Speech Pathologists can work with clients 1:1 in the clinic, in a group setting, at home, or even virtually through telehealth.
During your first appointment with a Speech Pathologist, you’ll share what is going on and discuss family and health history before exploring what some of the potential causes might be. Depending on what is happening for you or your loved one, we may not have all the answers in this first appointment and further investigations and assessments may be needed.
From here, a formal assessment may be recommended. For some clients, this can be completed in the first session or in the very next sessions. For some, we may need to spend more time building rapport before an assessment will be able to be completed effectively. Whenever an assessment is completed, your Speech Pathologist needs to spend the time after the appointment analysing and interpreting the information to get a full picture of what is going on.
Once this has been completed, the treating Speech Pathologist will have an appointment with you to discuss the results of the assessment and come up with specific targets and goals for therapy. Your therapist will then determine the best approach to achieve these goals and start planning Speech Therapy that is specific to the client’s needs and goals.
Find a local Speech Pathologist in Queensland
At SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we have Speech Therapy clinics across Queensland in Townsville, Mackay, and Brisbane. We also provide our services in the form of home visits for select locations and offer a highly engaging Telehealth service. Our team love providing targeted, enjoyable Speech Therapy for children, so get in touch today to start your journey with us.
If however, you are outside of these locations and are still seeking Speech Therapy, take a look at the Speech Pathology Australia website to find a local Speech Pathologist.