How Do I Choose A Speech Pathologist to Work With?

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IF you wish to choose a Speech Pathologist to work with the first question to ask about is their training and their experience in assessing and treating the difficulty that you are presenting with and whether they are certified with Speech Pathology Australia.

Alternatively, your GP, Specialist Doctor, Dentist, Orthodontist, or Allied Health Professional may write a referral for you, stating the primary difficulties and reason for seeking Speech Pathology assistance.

More About Speech Pathology

Speech Pathology is a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree that results in the privilege to practice as a Speech Pathologist: assessing, diagnosing and treating a range of communication and swallowing disorders in people of all ages. Academic components of the degree combine professional topics (speech pathology and audiology) with the basic sciences of linguistics, psychology, phonetics and aspects of medical science (anatomy/physiology and neuroanatomy/physiology).

All Speech Pathologists in Australia complete University courses and have 300 hours (minimum) of supervised clinical practice before they are allowed to graduate the course and practice independently. Even so, new graduates are encouraged to work in supported or mentored positions to ensure best practice and consolidation of their undergraduate skills. In fact, starting a job as a new grad is the start of real learning!

Speech Pathologists are trained to provide or arrange for a range of adjunctive services whenever the need arises, evaluate current research and apply the relevant findings to clinical practice. They must meet the Competency-Based Occupational Standards set by the professional association, Speech Pathology Australia.

Active learning and professional development continues throughout a Speech Pathologists career and is a requirement for them to be eligible for membership and certification with our peak national body Speech Pathology Australia.

More about Speech Pathologists

A Speech Pathologist may work as a generalist treating a range of disorders or develop specialist skills. Speech Pathologists may develop pockets of expertise in particular areas of practice because of the opportunities they have had in their training or workplace because they have been inspired by a teacher or mentor, because they have a personal connection (e.g. sibling with autism or a parent who has had a stroke or hearing impairment) or because they have developed a passionate interest in an area like singing for example.

Here are some examples of people who may benefit from a Speech Pathologist’s skills:

  • Tiny babies in Intensive Care Units
  • Children who have difficulty with early feeding
  • Children who are late talkers
  • Children experiencing literacy difficulties
  • People of all ages who cannot be understood when speaking
  • People of all ages who cannot understand others
  • People who stutter
  • People who develop difficulties as a result of medical conditions, accidents, injury or surgery,
  • People in professions requiring oral presentations to large audiences or the media
  • Singers experiencing difficulties with vocal performance
  • People who lose their voice or who have poor voice quality, that affects their job performance or daily life
  • People with disabilities
  • People learning English as a second language

The list really does go on and on and on…

Speech Pathology Australia is the national body for Speech Pathologists, that oversees practice standards, maintains eligibility for practice status, Code of Ethics and standards governing practice performance. It is a strong proponent of Evidence-Based Practice.

Speech Pathology Australia has actively lobbied the Australian Senate’s Community Affairs for improved services to Australians. The key message from the Committee’s report into Speech Pathology services in Australia is: “The time for talk is over. The time for action is now.”

Deborah Theodoros, President of Speech Pathology Australia, said: “For the first time we have a clear road map for delivery of adequate Speech Pathology services to the Australian community. We have a parliamentary committee that has reported on the issue of Speech Pathology services in Australia. For the first time, we have official confirmation that early and effective intervention in speech and language disorders saves taxpayers’ money.” Deborah, who gave evidence to the Senate Committee said, “This Senate Report must be a beginning. We must not allow it to be the final word.”

If you are interested in learning more about Speech Pathology (Australia), Speech-Language Pathology (US) or Speech Therapy (UK), please visit the following websites:

Sharon Moore

Author, speaker, sleep health advocate and speech pathologist

I'm Sharon Moore, author, speaker, sleep health advocate and speech pathologist at Well Spoken Upper Airway & Communication Solutions. I've seen more than 40,000 families over 4 decades of clinical work and I’ve seen first-hand how upper airway issues impact both health and happiness. The ripple effects span across family, school, community and society, and left untreated can last a life-time. I believe that great treatment transforms lives, the earlier the better and that everyone has a right to be happy, healthy and heard. I've worked in medical settings in Australia and London and currently run Well Spoken clinic in Canberra treating patients of all ages referred by medical and dental specialists for disorders of function of the upper airway that impact breathing, eating and communication.

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