As part of the DSF Clinical team, the speech pathologists play an important role in the prevention, early intervention and management of literacy difficulties in children. Evidence-based practise, drawn from current research, underpins all services provided. In addition to providing direct support to children and students, our speech pathologists have developed a close association with Curtin University to undergo literacy and language research as well as to supervise speech pathology honours students.
Speech Pathology services provided at the DSF Clinic
The assessment of speech, language and literacy skills from early childhood through to adolescence can provide valuable information about possible future literacy-learning difficulties. Assessment by a speech pathologist can be conducted over one or two sessions, depending on the areas requiring investigation. Assessment can focus on one or more of the following areas:
- Comprehension and the use of spoken language
- Phonological processing
- Speech sound development (articulation and phonology)
- Literacy skills including the development of accurate and fluent reading, writing and spelling.
DSF Speech Pathologists currently offer the following assessments:
Early Literacy Assessment
The Early Literacy Assessment is conducted by a Speech Pathologist and is designed to profile a students’ areas of strength and difficulty in their literacy skills. It focuses on foundational skills such as phonological processing. It also evaluates their letter-sound knowledge and their skills in reading, spelling and written expression. It is not possible to receive a diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disability through this assessment (diagnoses can only be made by a Psychologist following a Functional Assessment of Literacy or full Psycho-educational Assessment). However, this assessment is of most value when it appears that the student’s literacy skills are not progressing as expected and additional information is required to determine an appropriate course of action both at school and home.
Speech and Language Assessment
The Speech and Language Assessment is conducted by a Speech Pathologist and focuses on an individual’s expressive and receptive language skills, including comprehension (e.g. following instructions), vocabulary (how many words they can understand and use), and use of grammar (i.e. sentence structure). Where appropriate, this assessment can also evaluate an individual’s articulation (speech sounds), fluency (stuttering), social use of language, or higher-level language and problem-solving abilities. This assessment is designed to highlight areas of strength and difficulty in an individual’s speech and language skills, and may determine whether or not a language impairment is present.
Assessments are completed in one 1.5 to 2 hour session (time varies depending on age). A comprehensive report is provided two to three weeks after the assessment with recommendations for appropriate intervention and support. Families are also offered a follow-up meeting or phone call to discuss the findings.
Therapy sessions are beneficial for children and adolescents who need literacy support, and also for those who have speech and/or language difficulties. Intervention can be provided for areas of concern including oral language, written language, auditory processing, reading, spelling and articulation (speech sounds).
A consultation with a DSF speech pathologist can provide valuable information in relation to your concerns about your child’s development or academic progress. It is also useful to help determine whether or not your child would benefit from an assessment. The DSF speech pathologists are also able to consult with teachers to modify the language demands on children with language difficulties, and optimise their learning within the classroom.
The DSF speech pathologists are trained to use evidence-based programs, including Sounds~Write and Talk for Writing, to develop students’ reading, spelling and written expression skills. Group programs are tailored to reflect each student’s specific needs.
The DSF speech pathologists present both on-site and off-site workshops to teachers and parents on a variety of topics relating to language or literacy development.
Speech Pathology Screenings
The DSF speech pathologists offer high quality screening on-site at schools for kindergarten and/or pre-primary students. Carefully constructed screening tools identify difficulties with oral language, early literacy, articulation, fluency and social skills; all of which may impact on a student’s learning in the classroom. Individual reports, including recommendations, are prepared for each child, and consultation with both the teaching staff and parents is provided. Please contact DSF for further details.