Talk to any speech pathologist and they will tell you about the funniest responses they’ve had when telling someone that they are a speech pathologist. Most people don’t really know what we do (much like we speechies don’t really know what a Logistician or an Actuary does!). Some people will joke about making sure they “talk proper” in front of you, some do an impression of something resembling a cockney, Chewbacca, Yoda or, my favourite, Hyacinth Bucket! Others may say that they or someone in the family had to see a speech pathologist for a lisp or a stutter as a child.
People are often surprised when they learn that speech pathologists work with a wide range of communication and swallowing issues that people may experience across the whole life-span. Some speech pathologists work with babies with breastfeeding/swallowing difficulties while others specialise in working with the elderly or terminally ill at the end stages of life.
Of course there are then the better known stages in between; the toddler who is not talking yet, the pre-schooler with a stutter and the primary school age child struggling with social interaction, language or literacy skills (did you know that speech pathologists are specialists in written language skills, i.e. reading, spelling and writing?).
People tend to be less aware that our scope of practice also extends to helping the child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the teenager with organisational and executive functioning difficulties, the young adult after sustaining a head injury, the teacher or singer with a chronic voice disorder (think Adele with vocal nodules), those who have suffered a neurological event such as a stroke or brain tumour or those who are fighting cancer or terminal illness. These are just a few examples (there are so many more) to illustrate how people across the whole life-span can be impacted by communication and swallowing difficulties.
Our professional body, Speech Pathology Australia, works hard to raise awareness about the wide variety of communication and swallowing difficulties that could affect each and every one of us at one or, in some cases, multiple stages in our lives.
At Sydney Speech Clinic we are also passionate about raising awareness of the important work we do. At our local clinic we specialise primarily in working with children with speech, language and literacy difficulties. We also have experience working with adults with acquired brain injuries, particularly stroke rehabilitation and support for carers.
This year Speech Pathology Week is happening nationally between the 19th and 25th of August. Speech Pathology Week aims to promote the speech pathology profession and advocate for the work done by speech pathologists with the more than 1.1 million Australians who have a communication or swallowing disorder that impacts on their daily life.
The team at Sydney Speech Clinic will be promoting Speech Pathology Week locally between the 19th and 25th August so watch out for us around Lane Cove! There will be competitions and giveaways come and say ‘hi’ if you see us!
Catherine Lavery is a local Mum, Speech Pathologist, Professional Practice Educator for ACU, owner of Sydney Speech Clinic and active member of the Lane Cove Community. Catherine works in collaboration with a number of local businesses, schools, preschools and day care centres and is always happy to chat about all things speech pathology out and about in Lane Cove!
Do you have a local issue you would like help with? ITC is here to help just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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