NDIS Speech Therapy
What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy is a frequently used intervention for people with speech and communication disorders or difficulties. Speech therapy (or speech pathologists) investigate, diagnose and provide interventions for individuals who have problems with listening, speaking, using voice, reading, writing, comprehending language and social skills. While speech therapy can be used by people with no major diagnosed medical conditions, they often work with various conditions such as cerebral palsy, strokes, brain injuries, dementia, learning disabilities, developmental delays or intellectual disability, deafness or hearing loss, or problems with feeding and/or swallowing.
What are types of speech or language disorders?
People with speech disorders specifically have difficulties with producing sounds, while a language disorder involves deficits in understanding language or incorporating words to form sentences to conveying one’s ideas.
Examples of speech disorders include:
Disorders of fluency: where the eloquence and flow of speech is broken by issues such as stuttering, abnormal breaks, partial word repetitions or lengthening of sounds or parts of words.
Disorders of articulation: where the individual has problems generating sounds or words correctly to the extent of being unintelligible to others.
Disorders of voice (resonance disorders): where the person has deficits in volume, pitch or quality of voice causing others to become distracted and unable to follow the content of the person’s speech.
Examples of language disorders include:
Expressive disorders: restricted vocabulary, problems with combining words, or poor ability to apply language in a manner that is socially appropriate.
Cognitive-communication disorders: communication skills issues affecting perception, organization, memory, regulation, attention and problem solving.
Receptive disorders: problems with processing and understanding language.
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What does speech therapy involve?
A speech therapist can work with the client individually or in small groups depending on the person’s needs. The therapist may also work with the client in a classroom or similar setting to address specific issues.
Similar to many therapies, speech therapists will formulate a treatment plan based on the person’s individual needs and goals. The first step is usually to obtain a history of the person’s medical, personal, developmental and social background and identify main areas of concern or deficit. Usually, the person’s parents or carers are also involved in therapy to assist them to apply learned skills and strategies in their daily routine and provide ongoing support and encouragement.
Depending on the person’s needs and communication issues, speech therapy often involves the therapist teaching them correct syllables and sounds, promoting language development (e.g. by talking, using books or other objects) and vocabulary, or teaching proper grammar. Speech therapists can also improve social skills and interactions by explaining and modelling appropriate behaviours and interpretation of facial expressions, gestures and body language. In people with dysphagia or problems eating or drinking, speech therapists may also use oral and facial exercises (e.g. massage or lip or tongue exercises) to bolster mouth muscles to improve swallowing, drinking and eating.
NDIS and Speech Therapy
NDIS registered service providers can offer speech therapy to NDIS participants. With the list of NDIS providers constantly growing, it is becoming easier for participants to access services and supports. When it is time for your NDIS plan review, or if you are organizing an assessment to become an NDIS participant, ensure to tell the NDIS about your speech and language difficulties and why you need this intervention to improve your life. Speech therapy comes under the ‘Capacity building’ category of supports.