Speech Therapy FAQ
Speech therapy is a clinical program aimed at improving many aspects of communication that is not just limited to what is publically known as speech and language skills. Speech therapy touches a broad range of skills areas as Speech Pathologists are University trained professionals with in depth knowledge of many facets of communication and swallowing/ eating skills that can support both children and adult in the community across a vast range of conditions. Some of these specific areas include:
- Articulation and pronunciation of words-speech sound production
- phonological processing skills-phonological awareness skills
- oromotor skills
- auditory processing skills and listening skills
- language skills including vocabulary, semantic knowledge, comprehension of spoken information, syntax or sentence construction, grammar, narrative and dialogue
- literacy-reading, spelling and writing
- voice function and voice quality-professional voice/workplace rehabilitation injuries and childhood voice impairments
- fluency -stuttering
- social communication and pragmatic skills
- alternative and augmentative communication-low and high technology
- rehabilitation following a brain injury ie. stroke/ motor vehicle accident
- swallowing and eating skills
- degenerative diseases
- accent reduction and English as a second language (ESL)
- performance and excellence in communication-communication coaching
- communication challenges in conjunction with mental health disorders
Q: How Do I Know if My Child Needs Speech Therapy?
If your child’s disability is present at an early age, your health care team may recommend speech therapy as part of your child’s early intervention plan. There are also speech and language developmental milestones that you can monitor to make sure your child is on track. Talk to your doctor for a referral to support medicare assistance as a rebate, however gaining the best advise from the evaluation from a Speech Pathologist is the first recommendation due to the specialisation of this skill to answer this question. Sometimes a GP or specialist may miss important information during a brief conversation style assessment that only formal testing by the specialist Speech Pathologist will identify.
It is best to have the assessment to find out all is progressing nicely.
Q: Will My Insurance Cover Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy may be covered as part of your Private Health package, however you will need to contact your fund to determine how much and what you are entitled to. Be mindful that you are not allowed to claim both Medicare (EPC) and Private Health rebates on the same invoice (ie. no double dipping). Unfortunately the cover that is provided is not a lot and you will be out of pocket for the consultation. However, the child’s impairment and impact from treatment should be the first consideration – especially when other professionals such as solicitors, lawyers and accountants also do not allow for a rebate-but tend to get prioritisation for their service. Be mindful that the treatment offers life changing benefits for children with communication and literacy impairments and that this should be valued when making your decisions.
Q: How Long Will My Child Need Speech Therapy?
The length of therapy depends on the severity of the problem and the rate of progress made in the therapy sessions and during reinforcement at home and in the community. We will do our utmost to maximise you and your child’s progress with the time provided in therapy and offer many option to enable your valuable resources such as finances and time as effectively as possible. This may include teaching you to undertake the therapy tasks, working with others to learn skills for transference into other education settings and recommending equipment and therapy tools that enable you to have access to therapy at home.Our main interest is that you achieve your goals and gain the maximal benefit from therapy because we know the treatment is life changing for children and adults.
Our initial goal is verbal communication, however for some individuals who demonstrate severe communication impairments, there may be a need to provide an alternative form of communication using low and high technology devices to enable them to communicate at their greatest potential. This may be as a support to their verbal communication, to enhance their verbal communication or to enable verbal communication that otherwise may never be achieved.
The supportive devises are extensive and diverse in options and it is a specialty for Speech Pathologists to effectively assess and prescribe the most suitable alternative and augmentative device for a client. We may need some time to assess and get to know you or your child’s skills and capabilities and challenges when prescribing the most suitable device for you. This is crucial because if the device is not an effective match-it tends to sit in cupboards and not get used.
There is government funding available for the purchase of Speech Generated Devices (SGD) but a Speech Pathologists assessment and application is essential for this to occur. Speak with us about this option.
Q: Will your therapists just ‘play’ with my child?
Sometimes it may look like this in therapy… but this play is an ART!
Ever single task we use at Once Upon A Time Therapy has a purpose and directly relates to your child’s weekly goals. Children learn through play and exploration and you may need to talk with your therapist to understand what is the foundation of therapeutic intervention that is being achieved in that session of play.
We know it’s very important for your child to be learning as much as they can in their sessions and you can either be in the session with the therapist or sit on the other side of the viewing mirror to learn about what the therapist is doing. This is why we use a structured therapy approach with many of our clients, setting an expectation that they are in the clinic to learn. Our goals not only focus on speech, language, literacy and listening…but we also need to focus on the child’s development of thinking, attention, behaviour and social and emotional maturity. Success in learning is a culmination of many skills undertaken often at the same time. Our kids benefit from a reward system that makes therapy fun and enticing to work at their best. They are given clear feedback regarding their performance so they know what is expected. We aim to design tasks that are not too low or too high for their achievement for optimal confidence and performance and we regularly review their performance on a session by session basis.
Q: Why one hour appointments?
We strive to deliver a family focused speech therapy service and what this means is that we value spending time within your child’s session providing you with knowledge, skills and strategies to help your child for not only the formal home sessions you may be supporting but also how to carry this over into their everyday living which maximises their transference of the skills that they are learning. We also support some complex cases with parental support through our “Case Management from Home program” which is undertaken as you progress with therapy. This support you as the parent to be the most effective case manager of your child’s professional medical and allied health services so that you are optimising the resources of time and money and achieve your most optimum goals along the way.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other special needs benefit from additional repetition of tasks and research suggests that these children need up to 20 hours of intervention per week. Support for children diagnosed with AUTISM under the age of 6 years can be provided by the Helping Children with Autism Package to be spent before the age of 7 years. Children above this can be supported by 20 Enhanced Primary Care subsidised consultations.
To ensure that families are involved in their child’s speech therapy and offer maximum benefit to your child sessions are 60 minutes in length.
Q: Is there any funding available?
A: Here is the list of possible funding options however you will need to contact the clinic to find out if you may be eligible:
- Enhanced Primary Care (Medicare)
- Helping Children With Autism (Early intervention package & Later Years package)
- Better Start ( Early Intervention package & Later Years)
- Work Cover
- Dept of Veteran Affairs
- Private Health Funds
Q: What’s the youngest age I should see a speech therapist?
A: Any time you, your child’s carer or your Doctor are concerned with your child’s speech / language development. It’s always best to give us a call to put your mind at rest. Early intervention is crucial to support the best outcomes provided in therapy and provide you with valuable learning as how to best help your child. Some children can attend therapy as young as in their baby and infant years if they are diagnosed with a known clinical impairment.
Q: What information will be provided after the initial assessment?
A: We will discuss with you a brief overview of the assessment and recommendation for further therapy if required. If further assessment is required, this will be recommended and provided with subsequent sessions. A detailed comprehensive report will also be completed for you and at your request for other professionals such as your education team-teacher, learning support teacher, Allied Health Team-Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Behvaioural Optometrist or your medical team which could include a General Practitioner- Paediatrician, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon and Psychiatrist. Sometime a comprehensive team approach is required for the most effective management of your child’s challenges.
Q: How long does therapy generally take?
A: This is difficult to know exactly as there are so many variables and aspects of your child that need to be considered such as their age, their diagnosis, their degree of challenges and how much support that they may be able to receive. We aim to provide you with the most up to date current and accurate information about what is optimally available for support and how this can be achieved and then we work with you to develop a program that is constructed around factors such as your skills, finances, your availability and the Speech Pathologists availability. However, throughout the course of therapy we will continually keep you informed of how things are progressing and whether further therapy is required.