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Communication is fundamental to school success. Approximately 13% of Australian school children have a disorder that affects their communication. This equates to 3 children in every NSW primary classroom (based on an average class size of 24).

Speech and Language Development

Difficulties identified by speech pathologists include a delay or disorder in any  or all of the following:

  • production of speech sounds (articulation and phonology),

  • comprehending, remembering, and  following verbal or written instructions (receptive language and language processing)

  • verbal or written use of vocabulary,  grammar and sentence structure (expressive language)

  • pre- and early literacy skills such as being able to recognize and use rhyme, break words into syllables, blend phonemes into syllables and words, identify the beginning and ending sounds in a syllable and see smaller words within larger words such as “cat” in “catalog” (phonological awareness)

  • listening and attending (auditory processing)

 Communication difficulties significantly impact a child's

school participation and educational performance.



The first four years of a child's life are very significant for speech and language development. Once a child commences school, they face the demands of a school curriculum which is heavily reliant on language competence.


Critical Age of 5

Extensive research has concluded that 5 year olds entering school with significant untreated speech and language difficulties demonstrate ongoing educational difficulties.  The long-term effects include difficulties with reading, spelling, writing,  and numeracy, social challenges and low self-esteem.  They have also been found to be at greater risk of bullying and report less school enjoyment than their peers.  

(Bashir & Scavuzzo, 1992; Beitchman et al., 1994; Paul and Kellogg, 1997; Johnson et al 1999; Tomblin, Zhang, Buckwalter, and Catts, 2000; Young et al, 2002; Conti-Ramsden and Botting, 2004).

Children are at greater risk if:

  • they are male

  • they have had a history of middle ear infections or hearing loss

  • there is a family history of communication and/or literacy difficulties

  • they have a reactive personality (tend to give up  and not complete  challenging activities; easily frustrated; often described as "strong-willed")

  • they were breast fed for less than 9 months

Children rarely spontaneously "grow out of" speech and language difficulties.

Seeing a Speech Pathologist early gives you more time to address issues

before your child starts school.

WHAT TO EXPECT (& When to Seek Help)

When to seek help


      My child isn't talking                         Between two & three years                Between three & four years












    Between four & five years                                                                                        Over five years & school age  

                                                                                    Concerned about                                                                                                                                                                        STUTTERING ?                                       

      Here is some great information from 

Kids Health,  TCH Westmead






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