At Point Cook Therapy Centre, our founding member and principal speech pathologist has over thirty years of full time experience, having worked with thousands of families living with communication and / or swallowing difficulties over the years.
Our speech pathologists are committed to ongoing professional development, are registered with Speech Pathology Australia, and have special interests in working with people with:
- Delayed speech and language development
- Downs Syndrome and other congenital conditions
- Stroke, dementia, and other acquired neurological conditions
- Pragmatics and social communication difficulties
- Voice problems
- Feeding and swallowing difficulties
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic speech and language assessments
- Early intervention
- Articulation and language therapy
- social skills training
- Literacy and learning support
- Parent, family or carer guidance and support
An initial consultation and assessment appointment is arranged to establish the need for as well as goals for intervention. With more complex presentations, a subsequent diagnostic session/s may be necessary. Assessments for Autism are always done as part of the multidisciplinary assessment for Autism, and in collaboration with a paediatrician and psychologist.
With young children, parents are encouraged to participate in the session, and are provided with direct demonstrations and ideas for home stimulation, in order to transfer learnt skills. Length, frequency and type of therapy sessions offered depends on individual needs and as agreed with clients and/ or their families.
We also provide specific diagnostic assessments and reports on request, for example, as part of the multidisciplinary assessment for Autism and/or for developing goals within an intervention team or as part of the process for applications for funded support at school for severe language disorder.
Paired and group sessions are also provided, depending on individual needs, and these include:
- Social skills for preschool, school age children and teenagers
Our Social Skills Therapy helps develop the person's skills to think about others and how to modify their behaviours in response. Sessions develop theory of mind, perspective taking, self-awareness and awareness of others, body language, the way we talk, conversation skills, and assertiveness.
- Social Readiness Programs
Our School Readiness Program is for children starting school who may have speech and/or language delay. Individual and group therapy sessions focus on listening, speaking, reading and writing and include phonological awareness / pre-literacy skills to help facilitate school readiness.
- Speech sound awareness and literacy groups.
- Language groups
- Groups for adults or children who stutter
- Groups for adults who have experienced strokes
Recent research findings suggest that one in five children in Victoria start school with a speech and language delay. Early intervention is critical as the child’s potential to learn language is maximal in the first five years of life. Our therapists are skilled at fostering learning and nurturing children’s motivation to learn through fun and play.
You should seek help if:
- your infant isn't responding to sound or vocalisation, or is disinterested in others
- by 12 months isn't using gestures or waving 'bye bye'
- prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate at 18 months
- has trouble imitating sounds by 18 months
- has fewer than 20 words at 18 months
- has difficulty understanding simple verbal instructions
- by 2 years old can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't spontaneously produce words
- says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can't use oral language to communicate more than his or her immediate needs
- is more difficult to understand than others his or her age.
Clarity of speech normally improves throughout the first few years of life, and by the age of 4, the child should be understood by someone all the time, although the child may still substitute some sounds (e.g. ‘I hurt my fum’ instead of ‘I hurt my thumb’). A 3-year-old should be understood by an unfamiliar person at least 75% of the time. A 2-year-old should be understood at least 50% of the time. Speech delay can be related to hearing or language impairment, or overall cognitive or physical development. It can contribute to much frustration and at times challenging behaviour and anxiety. Our speech pathologist will assess and treat your child in a fun and supportive manner using a variety of interventions to assess problem areas in the child’s learning and assist in improving clarity.
By the age of four, a child can understand longer and more complex instructions and directions and readily express their ideas and thoughts, and demands in a two-way conversation. Between the ages of 3 and 4 the child quickly increases his vocabulary to about 1500 words, and uses many grammatical structures such as (‘is’, ‘are’, ‘have’), pronouns (he, she, her, his), verb tense markers and word endings (‘ing’, ‘ed’, ‘ly’), plurals (‘cars’), and adjectives (‘empty’). By the age of 5 years, the child’s grammatical competence generally is complete. The child uses more complex and mature vocabulary and language structure and demonstrates more complex conversations and storytelling. A good first language (speaking and understanding) forms a firm foundation for the child to develop his written language skills at school (reading, spelling, and writing).
Autism is a developmental condition that affects how a person interacts with others and the environment. People with Autism experience a range or ‘spectrum’ of difficulties, to varying degrees, mainly in relation to social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests. There may also be unusual sensory processing issues and interests. While they may have areas of particular skills, learning difficulties may coexist. Research indicates that Autism occurs in about one in a hundred people.
Autism is an often misunderstood condition. At our centre we believe that people with Autism may simply have a different way of processing the world. For the person with Autism it can be hard work having to think about everything that others may take for granted. It may also be difficult for those who are closest, to have the patience, to understand the person and what Autism means for them, to motivate and facilitate experiential learning with the right mix of structure, discipline and flexibility, to understand the reasons behind the challenges, pre-empting challenges and helping the person develop ways of overcoming those challenges, nurturing strengths and exploring possibilities.
Receiving a diagnosis of Autism within the family can be a truly overwhelming experience for anyone. The proper supports, stimulation and management strategies, counselling and networking are essential to help families on this journey. We provide individual, paired and small group therapy (social skills). Our experienced staff work holistically to help each person reach their full potential, and we work closely with parents, families and carers.
Pragmatics is the functional use of language in a social context for a variety of purposes. Pragmatic disorders often coexist with other language problems such as poor vocabulary or grammar. Pragmatic problems affect social interaction and integration, conversation and play skills, lowers social acceptance and affects the person’s well-being.
A person with pragmatic problems may say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations, tell stories in a disorganized way or have little variety in language use.
The person may have difficulty in using language for a variety of uses such as greeting, informing, requesting, compromising, and expressing emotion.
There may be difficulty in adapting language according to different listeners or situations, such as talking to a baby versus a teacher, or in a playground versus a classroom.
There may also be difficulties in observing rules for storytelling and conversation, including introducing and maintaining the topic, taking turns, repairing when not understood, understanding and using nonverbal aspects such as eye contact, facial expressions, posture, distance and touch.
While our experienced speech pathologist includes pragmatic skills training into every individual session, we also provide specific social skills groups run together with our occupational therapist or psychologist.
Social skills groups target engagement and conversational skills development for preschool and older children and teenagers, friendship skills for younger and older children, understanding emotions, regulating behaviour and conflict resolution skills, building self - concept, self -esteem, and self - regulation.
Children who struggle to make progress at school with pre-reading skill (phonemic awareness), reading, hand-writing and/or spelling, may have difficulty with:
Phonemic awareness skills (the ability to identify, segment, delete and blend sounds in words)
- Identify and create rhyming words
- Blending a string of sounds together to make a word
- Separating individual sounds from words
- Decoding sounds in words for reading
- Relating the sound to a letter shape and writing it
- Understanding the meaning of individual words
Remembering a string of words and understand their meaning within a sentence
- Relating different sentences to each other.
A child with Auditory Processing Disorder has weak auditory and attending skills associated with disorders like Central Auditory Processing disorders (CAPD), Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It may coexist with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The child may have poor listening skills, difficulty paying attention, difficulty remembering things told to him and carrying out multi step instructions, or may be slow to process information. These may lead to difficulty using and understanding language, behavioural problems, poor reading and spelling skills and poor academic performance. Our Speech Pathologist helps the child to process auditory information, to listen and learn more effectively.
Stuttering, or stammering, is a speech fluency disorder. Speech is interrupted by hesitating, repeating sounds and words, or prolonging sounds. There may be additional physical symptoms such as facial tension or body movements. Early intervention helps, but it is never too late for treatment to be sought for both adults and children.
Excessive tension when speaking can stress the vocal cords and cause problems in the throat muscles, and affect the voice. Any vocal abuse, such as excessive talking, shouting, coughing or clearing of the throat, can lead to a voice disorder, as physical changes such as nodules or polyps in the vocal cords change how the voice sounds. Our speech pathologists accept referrals from ENT specialists for treating children and adults with voice disorders.
Dyspraxia of speech occurs because of impaired voluntary programming of speech muscle movements for speech. These difficulties don’t occur with involuntary movements. For example, the child may be able to lick ice cream with his tongue, but can’t move the tongue to say the ‘k’ sound in a word such as ‘cake’. The error is inconsistent. The child may not be able to produce the sound when instructed to but may do so at another time. The child can be seen struggling to place the tongue or lips into the right position. In therapy with the child who has Childhood Dyspraxia of Speech our speech pathologist will use play therapy and learning activities to encourage and reward the child for sound or word repetition, moving towards more spontaneous speaking, and to improve accuracy and speed of speech movements so that the child can produce clearer longer words and sentences. Speech Dyspraxia may also occur in adults who, for example, have had a stroke.
Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia, occur when nerve control or structures involved in the process are not functioning properly. Many conditions can cause swallowing problems, among them:
- Developmental disorders with poor muscle tone e.g. Downs syndrome, Cerebral Palsy
- Neurological conditions such as stroke, Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative conditions including Dementia
- Breathing related conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
Swallowing disorders can require medical attention for a variety of reasons. People who can’t swallow safely may not be able to eat a healthy diet or maintain a healthy weight. Chunks of food or liquids may get into the windpipe, which can cause choking or start a lung infection. Many cases of dysphagia can be improved with treatment. Treatments for dysphagia include therapy to learn new swallowing techniques and changing the consistency of food and liquids to make them safer to swallow.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are often picky eaters, and can benefit from strategies to increase food intake and variety.
We provide assessment, treatment and maintenance programs for adults who:
have speech, language and / or cognitive communication disorders as a result of traumatic brain injury, stroke, dementia or other neurological conditions
have a voice disorder due to, for example, vocal abuse.
Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life. It is not a normal part of ageing. Dementia can happen to anyone, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. People in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia. The early signs of dementia are very subtle, and may not be immediately obvious. Some common symptoms may include progressive and frequent memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy, withdrawal and reduced ability to perform everyday tasks. We offer assessment and functional management strategies to deal with communication and swallowing difficulties, and work closely with families and carers.
We can offer assessment and on-going management of speech, language and swallowing for clients in aged care and residential facilities. We also offer In service and Education, and support in all aspects of communication and swallowing for family, carers and staff groups caring for the elderly or learning / intellectually disabled.
Fees are always discussed during the initial intake telephone conversation prior to booking your initial appointment, and are payable on the day of attendance, as we are a consortium of Allied Health Professionals. HICAPS and EFTPOS facilities are available, and health fund rebates as well as medicare rebates (when care plans have been provided by the referring doctor) can be processed on site. We are approved early intervention service providers for the Australian Government Department of Social Services Helping Children with Autism and Better Start Programs. We are NDIS registered providers and have been working with NDIS participants since 2017 .