Introducing the Kids in Adelaide Therapy Corner! We strive to enter 2018 with even more educational pieces for your interest in special development surrounding all things therapy and some great information from leading professionals right here in Adelaide!
We decided to kick off the Therapy Corner with surprisingly one of the most common need therapies for Children – Speech Therapy!
Naturally, we went to the best of the best in Adelaide Miss Kathryn Anderson. As a graduate of Speech Pathology at Flinder’s University Kathryn’s brag sheet includes positions at South Australia’s leading organisations such as Can:Do4Kids, Cora Barclay Centre and Inclusive Directions.
We got chatting with Kathryn to learn all about Speech Therapy and exactly what it is?!
So tell me… what led you to become a Speech Therapist?
It was actually watching the early journey of a friend of mine with her daughter that triggered my interest in the field. Her daughter had a stroke in utero (so before she was born) and at the time, was exploring different communication options to best support her daughter. I watched the trial of many different options and therapy techniques, and remember just wanting to jump in and give it a try. I was kind of hooked from that moment!!
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about speech therapy ?
Put it this way, often the first thing people say when they find out I am a Speech Pathologist is “oh I had better talk proper around you then!” I think most people think that a Speech Pathologist just works on ‘speech’ or articulation. This couldn’t be further from the mark! Yes, we help people improve their speech clarity by working on how they say different sounds, but we also support language difficulties – the content of what people say (expressive language) and understand (receptive language). We can also support fluency difficulties (better known as stuttering ), voice problems, swallowing difficulties, memory, attention, literacy.. the list goes on! I also think many people don’t realise that we can work across the life span, from newborns to the elderly. It’s a great profession with so much variety!
What exactly goes on a speech therapy session?
So this will depend greatly on the age of the person we are supporting, and what we are working on. I generally work with pre-school aged children with language difficulties so sessions are heavily play-based. For example, today I working with a little person who was having trouble understanding different concepts (up, down, in, out). We practiced these concepts by building a play farm and taking turns moving the different animals in and out of the barn, up and down the hill etc. We also got to practice speech sounds as we made the animal noises. This little person also practiced sequencing and following instructions as he listened to where each animal needed to go..
What are important speech and language milestones for Children?
In a nutshell, we generally look for children to be saying their first words at around 1 year of age, with 2-word combinations by the age of two. There are some really great speech sound development charts around, as the expected age for each sound varies quite a lot.
Early intervention for a child experiencing speech and/or language difficulties is always a huge focus amongst professionals. The best advice I can give here is if you are concerned about your child’s speech and/ or language development, have a chat with your GP or Paediatrician. A GP can also help with exploring funding options for you!
Please note however you do not need a referral to contact a speech therapist direct.
Click here to find a really useful guide on milestone developments
What are the best way’s to encourage a child’s language development?
Reading books together is really powerful – it is great exposure to so many different parts of language. Most children learn through play, so spending time interacting with them in an activity that they enjoy is also really great. You can commentate on what they are doing as they play, but also allow for pauses to encourage your child to take turns communicating. Another really good tip is to always talk a step or a level above your child. So, if your child is at the single word phrase, you should be modelling longer phrases.
Advice for any parent about to start the Speech Therapy Journey…..
Take the time to find a therapist that you and your child gel with!! It is important that you both trust the therapist and are able to work together to achieve the best results for you and your child. I also think it is important that the child enjoys the therapy – it shouldn’t be a chore, especially for young children. If they aren’t interested or engaged, they aren’t going to get much out of the therapy.. and neither will you!
And lastly do you have a favourite story you would like to share in helping someone’s journey…..
I think my all time favourite moment was the times when a little person I was supporting used a very colourful swear word during a session. Her mum was mortified, and I couldn’t stop laughing. The child I was supporting had a hearing loss and I had just finished explaining to the parent the importance of incidental learning, or how much children learning from what they overhear. The child swearing, which happened to be in correct context, helped me to show the parent that her child was in fact developing language and hearing incidental conversations at a rate we would expect for a child her age with typical hearing. This still makes me laugh to this day!!
We hope you enjoyed our introduction to speech therapy If you would like to connect with Kathryn further – please PM us via Facebook or send us an email and we would be happy to do introductions.