Who to see to get NDIS speech therapy for children

Who to see to get NDIS speech therapy for children
Photo: Trinity Kybassek, Pexels.

If you are concerned about your child’s communication abilities, or if your child has difficulty swallowing food or drink, NDIS speech therapy may be able to help.

A speech pathologist is a trained professional who works with people of all ages to help them communicate more effectively by improving language, fluency, speech and swallowing deficits. They may also provide alternative communication strategies for people who struggle to communicate verbally.

Children with disabilities or developmental delays may be eligible for speech therapy funding under the NDIS. Interventions are most effective when started early, ideally before age 5.

Top 3 speech pathology clinics in Sydney

If your child needs speech therapy funded by the NDIS, you have several options. Here are three of the best speech therapy clinics in Sydney:

Rank Name Website
1 Youth Living Skills www.youthlivingskills.com.au
2 Small Talk Speech Therapy www.smalltalkspeechtherapy.com.au
3 Sydney Speech Clinic www.sydneyspeechclinic.com.au

What does speech therapy for kids involve?

Speech therapy uses evidence-based approaches for treating communication difficulties in children. Speech pathologists use the most up-to-date resources and equipment when working with their clients. The clinician will tailor a unique plan for each individual and create specialised goals for therapy in order to meet each child’s specific needs and development level.

The therapist will then carry out assessments and interventions in order to help each child reach their personal best. This could include doing exercises to improve strength and control of the muscles in the throat and mouth for kids with articulation difficulties, or teaching sign language or other gestures to help kids with verbal difficulties.

Conditions that may benefit

Some of the disabilities and medical conditions that may be improved by speech therapy include:

  • Resonance/voice disorders (e.g. pain or discomfort whilst speaking, difficulties with pitch and volume)
  • Articulation disorders (e.g. difficulty producing sounds, making it hard to be understood by others)
  • Fluency disorders (e.g. stuttering)
  • Cognitive disorders (difficulty communicating due to factors like memory, perception, problem-solving or attention)
  • Receptive disorders (challenges processing or understanding language)
  • Expressive disorders (difficulties using language appropriately and/or having a limited vocabulary)
  • Dysphagia (oral feeding disorders which impair the way a child eats or drinks; could include difficulties chewing, coughing or swallowing)
  • Hearing impairments
  • Developmental delays
  • Birth defects
  • Autism
  • Breathing disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Possible benefits

Children who receive speech therapy may benefit in the following ways:

Improved expression

Whether by exercising and strengthening the oral muscles or by modelling correct grammar through play, speech therapy can help improve a child’s ability to express themselves and self-regulate. Your child may develop improved fluency, resonance and articulation which can make it easier for them to get their ideas across and their needs met.

Improved comprehension

Speech therapy can help kids who struggle to understand the meaning of words or struggle to read facial expressions and/or body language. This in turn can help them communicate more effectively with those around them.

Who to see to get NDIS speech therapy for children
Photo: Luna Lovegood, Pexels.

Improved feeding

Children with difficulties swallowing food or drink may find that these tasks become easier through speech therapy. Oral stimulation and muscle strengthening can help improve sensitivity to tastes and textures (great for picky eaters) and make swallowing easier.

Better social skills

Being able to communicate effectively and appropriately is important for socialising and developing friendships. Speech therapy can equip children with the tools and skills necessary to do this, thereby improving their quality of life.

Obtain communication aids

Children who require alternative ways of communicating (such as those with voice disorders like laryngitis or vocal cord paralysis) can be provided with communication devices such as text-to-speech programs to help them communicate.

Smooth transition into schooling

Improved communication skills can make the transition from home to preschool or primary school much easier and less stressful for the child, as they are equipped with the skills needed to thrive in their new environment.

Improve independence

Developing a child’s communication skills can help boost their self-esteem and help them to become more independent, thus setting them up for life.

Preparing for therapy

Before attending your child’s first therapy session with them, it’s important to have a think about the following and perhaps have a chat with your GP beforehand.

Know your reasons

Knowing the reasons why your child needs speech therapy is important – you want to be able to communicate these reasons with the clinician in the initial consultation. Consider writing down the reasons, what you want your child to get out of therapy, and any other questions or concerns you have. You can take this into your first appointment so that you’re better prepared.

Consider costs

Research how much speech therapy is going to cost before you make your decision; you don’t want to be hit with a huge bill unnecessarily. You may be able to get a Medicare or private health insurance rebate, or some other form of financial assistance.

Consider waiting lists

Waiting lists for speech therapy can potentially be quite long, so check with the clinic to see how long you’ll have to wait and if there is anything you can do for your child in the meantime.

Research location

Make sure you know where the therapist is located in advance of your appointment so that you aren’t late – they may be located in a hospital, medical centre, private practice or community health centre, and you may have to travel further than expected. Sometimes travelling further for a clinician may be worth it if they have a good reputation.

Check qualifications

Ensure that you check the qualifications of the clinician – they should have at least a master’s degree in speech pathology. Therapists who are members of the industry body, Speech Pathology Australia (SPA), are generally more up-to-date in the field than non-members, and receive professional development and practice.

Conclusion

Check with your GP to see if speech therapy is right for your child and if they are eligible to receive NDIS funding. Speech therapy can be a fun and highly valuable experience for your child, but make sure to do your research to select the most suitable therapist.