Speech Language Pathologist, Kate O’Callaghan, has over 25 years’ experience assessing and treating a wide range of communication difficulties. Kate has a special interest in language-based literacy problems, including reading, writing and spelling. She has completed additional training in the highly effective, thoroughly researched ‘Multilit Literacy Programme’ developed at Macquarie University.
Speech Pathologist, Belinda Green has worked with children in a wide range of settings across 3 countries, Australia, the UK and South Africa, for more than 23 years. She has a special interest in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and is currently a registered Provider both for the NDIS and HCWA (Helping Children With Autism). Belinda has completed additional training in the DIR/’Floortime’ approach, Sensory Processing Disorder, PECS, Social Skills, Emotional Regulation abilities, and the SOS Approach to Feeding. She also works with children with Sensory Feeding Difficulties, Developmental Delays, and delays and disorders in speech and language abilities. Belinda bases her work with children largely on the DIR model, which is a relationship-based approach and takes into account the child’s emotional developmental capacities, their individual differences and important relationships in their life. She also draws from several other approaches including Carol Gray’s Social Stories, and the Hanen approach, among others.
Referrals and Rebates
Doctor referrals are not necessary unless your child is eligible for Medicare rebates (up to 5 sessions per 12 months). These are available through your GP if your child is also being seen by another health professional. Otherwise, you can claim directly through your private health fund using the HICAPS system. Additional Medicare rebates (for a maximum of 20 sessions) are available for children with an ASD or PDD with referral through your Paediatrician.
Where can my child be seen?
Children can be seen at the clinic, their preschool or school. A strong emphasis is placed on working as a team which includes you and your child’s teachers, therapists, doctors and tutors.
Kate and Belinda both work with children ranging in age from 2 to 15 years who are experiencing difficulty in the following areas:
With a strong background knowledge in language development and disorders, speech pathologists are highly trained to assess, and work with all areas relating to the acquisition of reading, writing and spelling skills. Assessment and intervention involves the areas of comprehension, verbal expression, memory, and vocabulary, as well as auditory processing (phonological awareness), reading accuracy (decoding), reading comprehension and spelling.
Auditory Processing DisordersThis includes phonological awareness, that is, the ability to hear, analyse and manipulate sounds in words as required for writing, reading and spelling.
Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome
Delayed Language DevelopmentThis includes children who are late talkers or have difficulty forming sentences. They may have reduced vocabulary development, difficulty understanding and following instructions, or incorrect use of grammar.
Delayed Speech/Articulation DevelopmentUnclear speech or difficulty producing certain speech sounds, making it hard for others to understand them.
Hearing Impairment associated with glue earA history of ear infections and/or ‘glue ear’ often leads to speech and/or language delays and difficulties further down the track.
School ReadinessThis includes phonological awareness (rhyme awareness, syllable awareness, blending sounds to make a word), following instructions and telling stories.
The Human Brain – Biologically wired for oral language
The brain is biologically-wired only for oral language (speaking, listening, and understanding) not for written language (reading and writing). There are no genes specific to reading and writing nor are there neurological or biological structures specific to reading and writing.
The Human Brain – Re-wired for written language
In order to successfully read, write and spell, the human brain must ‘re-purpose’ regions of the brain biologically designed for other purposes, develop specialisation of neurons, create new circuits and connections attuned to written language, and develop efficiency written these newly formed neural connections to achieve functional connectivity. Learning to read and write is not just about acquiring knowledge, it’s about establishing functional connectivity. For most students, this re-writing of the brain required multi-linguistic and multi-modality structured literacy instruction using Connectionist Word Study instructional methods.
Explicit instruction in phonics involves systematic and sequential teaching of the letter-sound relationships in written English that allow readers to decode words. Explicit teaching of phonics is a cornerstone of effective early reading instruction. Around one third of children will have difficulty learning to read without systematic teaching of how to ‘crack the code’ of written English, and another third will not learn to read at all without it.
Phonics instruction is most effective when integrated into a comprehensive literacy program that includes practice with decodable text as well as exposure to literature with a rich vocabulary. Decades of evidence shows that all children benefit from explicit and early teaching of the correspondences between letters and speech sounds.