See our Therapy Programs Here. Join our Therapy Waitlist Here.

Types of speech pathology therapy

22 November 2021

Oral language therapy

Language is the communication of thoughts and feelings through symbols, such as sounds, gestures, or written words, which uses a set of shared rules. Oral language therapy focuses on understanding and saying words, understanding sentences and following directions, using appropriate grammar and sentences, and understanding and telling stories. 

If you’ve noticed any of the following, oral language therapy may be useful:

  • Your child is not saying words or sentences like other children his/her age
  • Your child says sentences that sound babyish because they are just 2 or 3 words long, such as "me got ball" instead of "I've got a ball" or "give dolly" instead of "give me the dolly"
  • Your child follows only some of the instructions you give him/her, e.g., you tell him/her “Get your book and bag and put your shoes on” and s/he only puts on his/her shoes
  • Your child gets mixed up between he and she so might say "he" when talking about a girl, or "she" when talking about a boy
  • Your child gets mixed up between he/him or she/her, so might say "him is working" rather than "he is working", or "her have a cake" rather than "she has a cake"
  • Your child leaves off past tense - ed endings on words, so might say "John kick the ball" instead of "John kicked the ball", or "Sally play over there" instead of "Sally played over there"
  • Your child leaves out "is", and so says "Daddy going to work" rather than "Daddy's going to work" or "Daddy is going to work". Or might say "The boy big" rather than "The boy is big"
  • Your child is vague in choice of words, making it unclear what s/he is talking about, e.g. saying "that thing" rather than "kettle"
  • Your child forgets words s/he knows - e.g. instead of "rhinoceros" may say "you know, the animal with the horn on its nose ..."
  • Your child mixes up words of similar meaning. e.g., might say "dog" for "fox", or "screwdriver" for "hammer"
  • Your child uses terms like "he" or "it" without making it clear what s/he is talking about. For instance, when talking about a film, might say "he was really great" without explaining who "he" is
  • Your child gets the sequence of events muddled up when trying to tell a story or describe a recent event. E.g. if describing a film, might talk about the end before the beginning
  • Your child doesn't explain what s/he is talking about to someone who doesn't share his/her experiences; for instance, might talk about "Johnny" without explaining who he is It is hard to make sense of what your child is saying (even though the words are dearly spoken)

Social-emotional skills therapy

Social-emotional learning is the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. Social communication is the use of language within a social context, including taking turns, initiating and maintaining conversation, and modifying language for different people and situations. Social-emotional skills therapy focuses on understanding one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior, managing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively, making caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions, understanding the perspectives of others and empathising with others, and establishing and maintaining healthy and supportive relationships. 

If you’ve noticed any of the following, social-emotional therapy may be useful: 

  • Your child talks repetitively about things that no-one is interested in
  • Your child talks to people too readily: e.g. without any encouragement, starts up a conversation with a stranger
  • It's difficult to stop your child from talking
  • Your child uses favourite phrases, sentences or longer sequences in rather inappropriate contexts. e.g., might say "all of a sudden" rather than "then", as in "we went to the park and all of a sudden we had a picnic". Or might habitually start utterances with "by the way"
  • Your child says words in an over-precise manner: accent may sound affected or "put-on", as if child is mimicking a TV personality rather than talking like those around him/her
  • Your child repeats back what others have just said. For instance, if you ask, "what did you eat?" might say, "what did I eat?"
  • Your child misses the point of jokes and puns (though may be amused by nonverbal humour such as slapstick)
  • Your child gets confused when a word is used with a different meaning from usual: e.g. might fail to understand if an unfriendly person was described as "cold" (and would assume they were shivering!)
  • Your child's ability to communicate varies from situation to situation - e.g. may cope well when talking one-to-one with a familiar adult, but have difficulty expressing him/herself in a group of children
  • Your child takes in just 1-2 words in a sentence, and so misinterprets what has been said. E.g. if someone says "I want to go skating next week", s/he may think they've been skating, or want to go now
  • Your child is over-literal, sometimes with (unintentionally) humorous results. E.g., a child who was asked "Do you find it hard to get up in the morning" replied "No. You just put one leg out of the bed and then the other and stand up." Another child who was told "watch your hands" when using scissors, proceeded to stare at his fingers.
  • Your child looks blank in a situation where most children would show a clear facial expression - e.g. when angry, fearful or happy
  • Your child does not look at the person s/he is talking to
  • Your child stands too close to other people when talking to them
  • Your child ignores conversational overtures from others (e.g. if asked, "what are you making?" does not look up and just continues working)
  • Your child fails to recognise when other people are upset or angry
  • Your child does not use gestures to get his/her meaning across
  • With familiar adults, your child seems inattentive, distant or preoccupied 
  • Your child is left out of joint activities by other children 
  • Your child hurts or upsets other children without meaning to 
  • When your child is given the opportunity to do what s/he likes, chooses the same favourite activity (e.g. playing a specific computer game)
  • Your child talks about lists of things s/he has memorised e.g., the names of the capitals of the world, or the names of varieties of dinosaurs
  • Your child moves the conversation to a favourite topic, even if others don't seem interested in it
  • Your child shows interest in things or activities that most people would find unusual, such as traffic lights, washing machines, lamp-posts
  • Your child surprises people by his/her knowledge of unusual words - uses terms you'd expect to hear from an adult rather than child
  • Your child does not adapt well to unexpected situations: e.g. gets upset if s/he planned to play on the computer, but has to do something else because it isn't working
  • Your child reacts negatively when a new and unfamiliar activity is suggested or when changing to a different activity

Speech sound therapy

Speech is using the tongue, lips, jaw, and other speech organs to produce sounds and use sounds in words. Speech sound therapy focuses on listening to sounds, listening to sounds in words, saying sounds, saying sounds with vowels, saying sounds in words, saying sounds in phrases and sentences, and saying sounds in conversation. 

If you’ve noticed any of the following, speech sound therapy may be useful: 

  • Your child mispronounces words, e.g., “wabbit” instead of "rabbit" or "thock" instead of "sock" (a lisp)
  • Your child leaves out sounds in words, e.g., "crocodile" pronounced as "cockodile", or "stranger" as "staynger"
  • Your child leaves off the beginning or ends of words, e.g., says “roe” instead of “road” or “nana” instead of “banana”
  • Your child pronounces words in a babyish way, such as "chimbley" for "chimney" or "bokkle" for "bottle"
  • Your child makes mistakes in pronouncing long words; e.g. says "vegebable" rather than "vegetable" or "trellistope" rather than "telescope"
  • Your child’s speech is unclear to you or others

Speech fluency therapy

Speech fluency is the smoothness of speech in terms of its rate and flow. Stuttering is characterized by a high frequency or duration of stoppages in the flow of speech.

If you’ve noticed any of the following, speech fluency therapy may be useful:

  • Your child does not speak fluently and hesitates when talking
  • Your child makes false starts, and repeats or gets stuck on words or parts of words, e.g., might say "can I - can I - can - can I have an - have an ice-cream"