Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Speech and Language? 

Language is the method in which we communicate! It occurs through listening and understanding words (receptive language) as well as producing words in spoken or written format (expressive language). Language is what gives meaning to what we are saying. It is inclusive of reading, comprehension, spelling and grammar. Difficulties in language can sometimes be more subtle to identify, however may include the child's preference for gesture over words, the child talking a lot but not making sense or using general, simple sentences, the child's preference to play by themselves. Use the Communication Milestones and checklists to monitor children's language. 

Speech is the physical act of talking, it is how we articulate and pronounce sounds and words. Speech difficulties are more commonly picked up on as we can hear when something sounds different. For example, when a child says 'wed' instead of 'red', or 'fumb' instead or 'thumb'. It is common for children over 5 years to still have some speech errors, for example with 'th' sounds and pronouncing long words. Please refer to a speech pathologist if children's speech difficulties severely impact on how well they are understood, or if you are concerned it impacts on how much they talk and participate in class. You may also refer to Speech Pathology Australia's 'The Sound of Speech' Factsheets for 0-3 years and preschool children. 

Should I wait and see?

No! Refer to a Speech Pathologist or advise parents to see a Speech Pathologist as soon as you notice any ‘Red Flag’ concerns. Speech Pathologists can help children at any age. At 0-5 years, children are in their critical period of language development, so if there are any communication issues, it is better to be addressed earlier rather than later.

What about multilingual children? 

Children all over the world learn multiple languages all the time. Learning another language will not cause or worsen speech or language problems. Multilingual children develop language skills just as other children do. Children do not have to be proficient in one language before they learn the other. 

  • Encourage parents to talk to their child in the language they know best at home, even if it is not English. A good language model gives children the skills they need to learn other languages. 
  • If the child has reported difficulty in all languages, please refer them to a Speech Pathologist as this may be an indication of language issues.

(Lowry, 2016)

What can I do for children with feeding difficulties?

Please refer to a Speech Pathologist and/or GP and Paediatrician if you notice any red flags of feeding difficulties.

Some red flags include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Long feeding time (over 30 minutes, or longer than their peers).
  • Holding food in their mouth for longer than usual.
  • Extremely picky eaters, more so than their peers
  • Coughing or gagging while eating
  • Irritability during feeding
  • Refusing to eat or drink 
  • Food spillage from mouth or nose
  • Difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking
  • Less than normal weight gain/growth
  • Vomiting
  • Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections

Why should I administer the speech pathology ‘Communication Checklist’?

The ‘Communication Checklist’ was developed through a collation of speech and language development milestones that children should have achieved by their age. Thus any concerns raised on this checklist should be investigated further by a Speech Pathologist. The checklist can also be used to support your concerns with examples of the child’s difficulties when talking to parents.

Won’t children’s communication improve naturally when they start school?

Whilst school provides education, it will also expose children to new words, concepts and instructions, with a higher demand for educational achievements. If children are already having difficulties with talking or understanding at childcare or preschool, it is likely that they will continue to have difficulties in prep and beyond. Research has also found that early language and vocabulary size is an indicator of literacy skills in school-aged children. To provide them with as much support as possible so they are in the best position possible to help their learning, an earlier referral to speech pathology is recommended.

(Lee, 2011) 


For any other questions or queries, please contact Ms Alison Jackson (BSpPath) at alison@speechcare.com.au 

Search Content:
Speechcare Logo
UQ logo
© 2021 Speech Care Terms and Conditions of Use Privacy Policy A Smartspace Website by Website WizLog In