Health

Speech Pathology Week 2018

Communication access is communication for all!

With the beginning of Speech Pathology Week upon us, we want to promote the speech pathology profession, and highlight the vital role they play within our hospitals with more than 1.1 million Australians who have a communication or swallowing disorder that impacts their daily life.

What do Speech Pathologists do?

To put it simply, Speech Pathologists study, diagnose and treat various communications disorders.

These disorders include:

  • Those who have difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, stuttering and using voice.
  • Those who have difficulty communications because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, dementia and hearing loss, as well as other problems affecting speech and language.
  • People who have difficulties swallowing food and drink safely.
  • Children with autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy often begin their life with a communication impairment
  • 20% of four year old children have difficulty understanding or using language
  • 14% of 15 year olds have only basic literacy skills
  • 28% of teachers take time off work each year because of voice problems
  • At least 30% of people post-stroke suffer loss of language (aphasia)
  • 85% of those with Parkinson’s disease have voice, speech and/ or swallowing difficulties
  • 13,000 Australians use electronic communication aids to get their message across
  • Children with a language impairment are six times more likely to have a reading problem than children without
  • 46% of young Australian offenders have a language impairment
  • There is a high correlation between communication difficulties and poor mental health
  • Three in every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss, which without intervention can affect their speech, language and literacy. Indigenous children have three times more hearing problems than non-Indigenous children

Understanding Communications Impairment

Communication involves speaking, hearing, listening, understanding, social skills, reading, writing and using voice. People who have difficulties communicating may require assistance with:

Speech involves saying the sounds in words so that people can understand what is being said.

Language is the exchange of ideas using words, usually in spoken or written form.For example a child who has trouble understanding and following instruction, or an adult who can’t find the right words after they have had a stroke.

Literacy involves reading, understanding what is read and communicating it in written form.

Social Communication is how we communicate and involves interpreting the context of a conversation, understanding non-verbal information and the social rules of communication that are needed to develop a relationship with another person.

Voice using the vocal cords or voice box to produce speech.

Fluency commonly known as stuttering


Communication impairment is more common than you may think

  • Children with autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy often begin their life with a communication impairment
  • 20% of four year old children have difficulty understanding or using language
  • 14% of 15 year olds have only basic literacy skills
  • 28% of teachers take time off work each year because of voice problems
  • At least 30% of people post-stroke suffer loss of language (aphasia)
  • 85% of those with Parkinson’s disease have voice, speech and/ or swallowing difficulties
  • 13,000 Australians use electronic communication aids to get their message across
  • Children with a language impairment are six times more likely to have a reading problem than children without
  • 46% of young Australian offenders have a language impairment
  • There is a high correlation between communication difficulties and poor mental health
  • Three in every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss, which without intervention can affect their speech, language and literacy. Indigenous children have three times more hearing problems than non-Indigenous children


What's the impact for someone suffering a communications impairment?

The impact of communication impairment can range from mild to severe, with difficulties that can be temporary or last a lifetime. Even mild communication impairment can have a serious impact on how a person functions day to day- like speaking in class, ordering food at a restaurant or finding a job.

People with communication impairment can suffer frustration, anger, embarrassment or grief as they try to communicate their needs, opinions and ideas. Others can misunderstand a communication impairment and respond inappropriately or insensitively to the person who is trying to communicate.

Speech pathologists are here to help!

Specialists trained to access, advise, treat and advocate for people with communication impairment, speech pathologists are fundamental in preventing and reducing the lifelong implications for many Australians living with communication impairments.