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Speech Pathology

A Speech Pathologist has been trained to assess and treat people who have a communication disability, including those with autism. Speech Pathologists also work with people who have difficulties swallowing food and drink.

Speech Pathologists complete a degree at university that encompasses all aspects of communication including speech, language, reading, writing, signs, symbols and gestures. Although there is no compulsory registration for Speech Pathologists, all of the Speech Pathologists employed at Irabina are members of our national body – Speech Pathology Australia. Our staff members are voluntarily part of a national certification process and must complete ongoing training to maintain their status as a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist.

Speech Pathology at Irabina

The experienced and dedicated Speech Pathologists at Irabina work with children and their families to enhance communication, social, and eating skills. They make it possible for each child to reach his/her potential in interactions with family members and the community. For a child, this may include working on: speech sounds and clarity; comprehension; expressive language; non-verbal communication and gesture; social skills; play; pre-literacy skills; school and kindergarten activities; and attending to and engaging successfully with others. Many young children with autism will work with a Speech Pathologist to improve skills in the following areas:

Comprehension (Receptive Language)

  • Following instructions of varying length and complexity
  • Understanding words for different concepts (e.g. first, under, smooth, full)
  • Understanding grammatical structures (e.g. plurals, past tense)
  • Recognising relationships between words (e.g. hat and shoe are both clothes; long and short are opposites)
  • Understanding non-literal expression (e.g. I’m picking my brains to come up with a good idea)

Speech Sounds (Articulation)

  • Correctly pronouncing sounds in words
  • Placing sounds in the correct sequence in words and sentences

Non-Verbal Communication and Gesture

  • Understanding and using different facial expressions to convey meaning
  • Following and using pointing appropriately
  • Recognising different tones of voice

Social Skills

  • Taking turns in games and conversation
  • Being polite and using manners
  • Responding appropriately to the emotions of others
  • Cooperating and negotiating with peers
  • Interrupting appropriately

Engaging with others

  • Initiating greetings and play with peers
  • Looking at the person who is speaking
  • Being friendly
  • Talking about topics that interest others
  • Making appropriate comments
  • Understanding different points of view

Expressive Language

  • Using age-appropriate vocabulary
  • Using age-appropriate grammar (e.g. swimming, eat versus ate, fastest)
  • Using pronouns (e.g. you, me, he, she, themselves)
  • Giving the appropriate amount of information for the listener
  • Telling stories or procedures in the appropriate order

Pre-literacy Skills

  • Hearing and identifying sounds in words
  • Recognising and producing rhyming words
  • Breaking words into syllables
  • Looking at books and writing left to right, top to bottom
  • Knowing that written words have meaning and that written symbols correspond to sounds

Play Skills

  • Knowing what to do with a variety of toys
  • Pretending and taking on roles
  • Following rules of playground games
  • Cooperating in play themes with peers
  • Being a good winner or loser


  • Listening to others
  • Recognising when it is appropriate to interrupt
  • Focusing on a single activity at a time
  • Filtering out background noise and ignoring distractions
  • Recognising and understanding the main ideas in a story

After an initial evaluation with your child, the Speech Pathologist – together with you as parents/caregivers – will work towards gaining skills and independence.

How do Speech Pathologists Work?

Speech Pathologists at Irabina work in a variety of ways. These include: providing individual therapy; working in small groups; working within a classroom setting; becoming involved in home-based programs; providing resources and information; and giving advice and direction to parents, carers and other professionals.

Speech Pathologists can coordinate the management of clients. They work as part of a multi disciplinary team, consult with other agencies, provide workshops, and support family members and other caregivers. A Speech Pathologist is an important member of the Early Intervention team and School Therapy team.

An additional role of Speech Pathologists is to advocate strongly for the appropriate care and services for people with communication disabilities.

If you have any queries regarding Speech Pathology services at Irabina, please contact the Head of Clinical Services, or one of our caring, professional Speech Pathologists.