When on a WAITING LIST for Speech Pathology….What you can do!

Have you been told that the WAITING TIME for your child to see a Speech Pathologist is lengthy?

Unfortunately the demand for Speech Pathology services continues to far exceed the demand in many parts of Australia.  You are not alone.

All over this country there are children of all ages waiting far too long for the support they need to develop speech, language and communication skills.

We all know that Early Identification and Early Intervention are both crucial if we are to help our children reach their potential.


….you can either throw your hands in the air and sit and wait


….think outside the square and choose to be proactive in this waiting phase

This problem requires a few creative solutions but there is no reason why your child, a child you educate or care for cannot access support immediately.

Here are some ideas that you may have not yet considered:

Speech Pathologists are not the only professionals who can help your child!

Yes, that’s correct.  Everyone has a role in nurturing the speech, language and communication skills of children.

Start by building your own knowledge and skills around all things child communication by keeping an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram social media channels.

Take a deep dive into our WEBSITE where we share checklists, access to free texts as well as a weekly Chatterbox blog covering a wide range of topics.

Many speech pathology and allied health practices such as ours are employing and training non- Speech Pathologists with backgrounds in early childhood, education or disability to become Speech Pathology Therapy Assistants.  As Therapy Assistants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, it can often be easier to recruit them than qualified Speech Pathologists.  Therapy Assistants can deliver programmes to clients that are deemed suitable for such a service with close Speech Pathology supervision.

If your child or a child you educate is waiting for Speech Pathology, it may be worth asking

‘Does your practice provide a Therapy Assistant service?’.

If so, this might be an option whilst your child is waiting for a Speech Pathologist!

Many young children under the age of 7 who are eligible for NDIS funding have  Key Workers who are early childhood intervention specialists.  If your child has a Key Worker but is still waiting for a Speech Pathologist, encourage your Key Worker to Contact Us us to discuss the possibility of some

Face to Face or Zoom Coaching

to build valuable knowledge, skills and confidence to support your child’s speech, language and communication skills during this interim period.

We now provide a range of tailored Professional Development packages to meet the needs of Parent Groups, Key Workers, Early Childhood Educators and Disability Support Workers.

We just love it when we get contacted to discuss collaborating to help more children.

Consider Tele-Practice

Whilst most families prefer Face-to-Face Speech Pathology services, there are several who decide to embrace  Tele-Practice once they have given it a try.

Tele-Practice can provides a great start whilst children are waiting for a Face to Face Speech Pathology appointment.  At Learn2Communicate as well as in many […]


Kicking Goals in Early Childhood Communication

So now you have profiled a child’s communicative strengths and challenges

and have some ideas brewing for where you would like to start.

Things can get pretty overwhelming at this stage so here a few helpful suggestions for communication goals that can be targeted in early childhood settings during natural routines and play:

“What will make the most difference to this child’s life?”

When looking at your profile of communication strengths and challenges, this is a vital question to ask as you sit back and reflect upon where to start.

SPEECH:  What speech sound difficulties are those that are most impacting intelligibility and clarity for this child?  These might be good sounds to start working on if developmentally appropriate.  https://learn2communicate.com.au/product/speech-development-a-toolkit-for-early-childhood-educators/

RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE:  At what times of the day does the child’s difficulties with understanding language most impact his or her capacity to engage with activities, routines and play?  Perhaps it is when needing to follow instructions during transition times.  Maybe it is when required to listen and respond during story time on the mat or when responding to questions for early morning circle time.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE:  Are there situations where communication breaks down because a child is unable to effectively convey his or her ideas using words or short sentences?  Does this ever result in frustration for you or for the child?

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION:  Have you noticed particular patterns of challenge related to the child’s difficulties in understanding and using the many unwritten rules of social interaction and play.  Perhaps the child is struggling to understand the concept of turns or does not seem to comprehend when his or her actions have upset a playmate.  Maybe the child’s ability to play has stalled and the child is yet to play with a variety of items in a reciprocal and imaginative manner.  This may be restricting their ability to positive engage with peers.

Take Small Steps to Achieve Communication Goals

As I have often said…my advice is that less is more.  Choose no more than 3 small things to start working towards the child achieving in your early childhood setting.  Choose goals that are important, that have meaning to the child, are developmentally appropriate and that will make a significant difference for your child.

Keep goals small, really specific and achievable to target in natural early childhood routines.

Achieving these small goals helps the child to inch towards achieving those big, longer term goals whilst being motivated by small wins and success along the way.

Some examples might include:

XX will understand and follow 2 step instructions during lunch time e.g. “Get you lunch box…..and get your hat”.

Remember to also note the supports that you are going to infuse into these goals to set the child up for success.  In the above example it might be that you will call the child’s name first, get down to their level, place yourself face to face with the child when giving the instruction and slow your speech down.  You might also include gestures such as pointing and pictures of the items that the […]


Considering Parent Perspectives when Discussing Speech and Language Concerns

“I was waiting for my child’s early childhood educator to tell me that they had concerns”

Too often, this is what we are told by parents and carers when seeing a child for the first time at age 8 in our speech pathology clinics.

By then, the child often dislikes learning….feels they are a poor reader….avoids participation in the classroom ….. is a challenge for parents to get any homework completed….is disinterested in the classroom.

The list goes on!

It is vital for children to be identified as early as possible with speech, language and communication difficulties in order for them to access the support they need.

Support provided in the early years can prevent the cascade of social and emotional difficulties that sadly, often follow, if these difficulties are left unaddressed until the early Primary School years.

Yes, it can be a difficult topic for Early Childhood Educators to broach with parents and there may be a range of reactions from parents.

That doesn’t mean the conversation should never happen.

Here are some tips for Early Childhood Educators when scheduling a meeting a family to discuss concerns about speech, language and communication skills.

Parent/Carers may have noticed some of these concerns themselves

If so, encourage the parent to share his or her observations and concerns with you.  Acknowledge these concerns and reassure the parent/s that you will work together to come up with a plan to support the child’s development.

Parents may feel defensive

Hearing concerns being raised about your child’s development can be overwhelming and may trigger defensive responses from parents.  Educators can assist by remaining neutral and positive in the interaction and listening to the parent.  Let the parent express their concerns and feelings and acknowledge their perspective.

Follow Up

After the initial conversation, follow up with families to see how they are doing and whether they have any questions or concerns.  Not all families will be ‘ready’ to hear the information that you need to share with them at the time you decide to share it.  If you are consistently available and have a positive relationships with the family, the parents/carers will know you are there to confide in when and if needed.

Be Informed

Educate yourself on what speech, language and communication skill development looks like, what the signs of delay may be and what are the most appropriate ways to support the child who shows these signs of delay.

Our Learn2Communicate website is the perfect place for you to start https://learn2communicate.com.au/ and our social media pages are also full of evidence based information and helpful tips for educators and parents. https://www.instagram.com/learn2communicate/

Beware of common myths https://www.thespeechdynamic.com/fact-or-fiction/

Arm yourself with information so that you feel informed and equipped to answer questions that parents may have.  Be honest when you do not know the answer and offer to find out for the parent by consulting with your local Speech Pathologist or contacting us via our website.

Having ‘that’ conversation can be challenging but…

It is so important.

Parents are often waiting for an educator to raise […]


So you have some concerns about a child you educate…..

The first step is always to start documenting your observations

As an early childhood educator, you cannot accurately identify and support children who have speech, language and communication difficulties without first collecting and documenting your observations.

Before you approach parents, it is essential to document your observations about the child’s communication skills.  To make it a little easier, we have a free comprehensive guide for early childhood educators that you can download from our website https://learn2communicate.com.au/product/identifying-speech-and-language-difficulties-a-practical-guide-for-early-childhood-educators/ or a quick cheat sheet if you want to opt for something a little quick simpler https://mailchi.mp/a872b26cca98/speech-and-language-milestones-0-5-years .

Schedule a meeting with the parents

Conversations with a parent about concerns you may have regarding their child should not be attempted during drop off / pick up times.  Instead, schedule a meeting with the parent.  This will allow for a more personal, detailed conversation and provides parents with notice so that they can prepare themselves emotionally.

It also goes without saying that such meetings and conversations can only be scheduled when there is a high element of trust and positive rapport between the early childhood educator and the parent.  The importance of pouring your energy into establishing these positive relationships with families cannot be understated!

Use Positive, Encouraging Language in the meeting but be HONEST

Framing your observations in more positive language whilst still clearly communicating your concerns is important.

Instead of “I am worried about your child’s development”  try “I have some observations that I would like to share with you”.

You can then share your observations and provide specific examples to help parents understand why you have concerns about their child’s development.  Encourage parents to also share their observations with you.

Listen more than you Speak

Make some open ended comments and questions to encourage parents to share information with you about their child.

Actively listen to this information.  Remember that the parent is always the expert when it comes to their child.  They can always provide us with more information to help us understand their child’s strengths and challenges as well as other factors which may be impacting their child’s development.

Be Empathetic

Remember that discussing a child’s development can be sensitive topic for many parents.  Try to understand and accept a variety of responses from parents and shown them that you are there to support them and their child.

Offer to Help

It is one thing to raise a parent’s awareness about a child’s developmental challenges.  It is another to have the parent understand, acknowledge and come to terms with this information.

Once these two first steps have been worked through, parents can feel very overwhelmed about where to start in order to help their child.  It is important for early childhood educators to have some helpful resources, contacts, service provider options and information at their fingertips so that parents feel supported in addressing their child’s developmental concerns.

Once again, our free resources (books, home programmes) can be of assistance https://learn2communicate.com.au/ as can our social media pages https://www.facebook.com/Learn2Communicate and https://www.instagram.com/learn2communicate/ .

Keep an eye out for next week’s Chatterbox […]



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