We have a guest blogger this week as part of Speech Pathology Week.
Speech Pathologist Laura Blasdale has kindly agreed to tell NSW CID more about the world of speech pathology. Thanks Laura…..

Talk with meThis week we're celebrating Speech Pathology Week and in true Speech Pathologist fashion, encouraging people to "Talk with Me" about the 1.1 million plus Australians who have a communication or swallowing difficulty that impacts their quality of life.

So what exactly does a Speech Pathologist do?

communicateSpeech pathologists work with people of all ages to support them in overcoming or managing difficulties with communication (including non-verbal communication);

  • speech (making the sounds in words),
  • language (how the brain chooses words to create a sentence),
  • voice (the sound you need to make when you speak),
  • stuttering,

 And we also support people with eating and drinking (the one that is hard to swallow - excuse the pun!).

Basically, working with people who experience communication and swallowing difficulties is the core of what we do.

How can Speech Pathologists work with people with intellectual disabilities?

There are so many ways a Speech Pathologist can work with people who have disabilities. That’s why I love my job!

We work with people to support them in finding the best way to communicate their wants and needs… and it isn’t always through speech! It’s our role to liaise with the person and their family in figuring out what suits them! This could include a mixture of any of the following: gesture, symbols, speech, pictures, signs, high-tech communication devices, alphabet boards… often it requires creativity and an ability to ‘think outside of the box!’’

ways to communicate

You may be reading this blog with a coffee in-hand, or over a lovely warm cup of tea… But imagine if you had difficulty swallowing that delicious sip… it’s not often something you think about until it impacts you or someone you know.  Speech pathologists also support people in eating and drinking (‘swallowing’) safely. There are a number of ways to do this, including modified utensils, positioning, changing the texture of food/drinks… the list goes on.

Where do Speech Pathologists work?

AAC picnicSpeech pathologists work with people in a range of settings:

  • schools
  • hospitals
  • at home
  • in residential care settings
  • community and mental health settings
  • day programs
  • private practices

... anywhere really!

Can I get subsidised Speech Pathology services?

There’s no set ‘rate’ for a session with a speech pathologist. It is however possible to obtain subsidised speech pathology services through the Medicare Benefits Scheme for Allied Health Services. Depending on the scheme, age and diagnosis of the client, a person can claim a rebate on a maximum of 24 sessions (including assessment and therapy) or $6000.

The steps below outline how you may be able to obtain service through one of these scheme:

  1. Contact a GP – to obtain subsidised service from Medicare the person requires a referral from a GP.
  2. Discuss the subsidy options with your GP, these include: FaHCSIA Better Start for Children with Disability initiative, Children with Autism or Any Other Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Chronic Disease Management Plan and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. For more information on these options, see http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/   
  3. Find a private Speech Pathologist - many Speech Pathologists are listed on the Speech Pathology Australia website, http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/information-for-the-community/find-a-speech-pathologist
  4. Contact the desired Speech Pathologist and discuss the person’s needs (including plans to use one of the schemes).

This website has some useful information on how to obtain subsidised service from a speech pathologist: http://www.salconsulting.com.au/speech_services_pay.html#medicare

About the author:

Laura PicLaura Blasdale is a Speech Pathologist working in the disability sector in NSW. Her interest in speech pathology spans back to when she was a  child and fascinated by children who were profoundly deaf… she asked herself “how can they talk when they can’t hear?” Fast-forward a few years and a couple of degrees… she’s worked in the disability sector for Northcott and Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Ageing, Disability and Home Care (a division of NSW Government’s Family and Community Services). Laura can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thanks to Harmony Turnbull for some of the photos too.



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