Treatments and tests

Speech pathology

Speech pathologists are university trained professionals who work with people of all ages to diagnose, manage and treat communication and swallowing problems.

Communication or swallowing problems may result from a range of conditions including:

  • stroke
  • brain injury
  • cleft palate
  • dementia
  • learning and intellectual disabilities
  • developmental delay
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • cerebral palsy
  • hearing loss
  • stuttering
  • progressive neurological disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, motor neurone disease)
  • cancer
  • spinal injury.

What does a speech pathologist do?

A speech pathologist is trained in assessing and treating speech, language, fluency, swallowing and voice difficulties. Their training also assists in assessing and treating people who have swallowing or communication problems.

They work with all modes of communication including:

  • speech
  • gestures
  • writing
  • reading
  • using aids and tools (such as iPads or charts).

Examples of treatment provided by speech pathologists

You can receive treatment from a speech pathologist for many different conditions, for example:

  • A child or adult who stutters can learn to speak more fluently and with confidence.
  • A parent or carer can get advice on feeding a baby with a cleft palate.
  • A person who has had a stroke or head injury can get help learning to speak or swallow again.

Speech pathology while you’re in hospital

Speech pathology is available in many metropolitan and country hospitals in Western Australia.

Speech pathology outside of hospital

Speech pathology is practised in a wide range of settings in the community including schools, aged care facilities, rehabilitation centres and community health centres.

Speech pathology is also available as an outpatient at some hospitals in Western Australia. You may need a doctor’s referral. Check with your local hospital or child health service who will advise you of the nearest public speech pathology service available.

Can I access a speech pathologist privately?

You can visit a speech pathologist as a private patient.

You do not need a doctor’s referral. However, you will need a referral if you would like to claim a Medicare rebate.

You can find a private speech pathologist via Speech Pathology Australia (external site) or in the Yellow Pages.

More information

Some speech pathology and other allied health services are offered to people with chronic conditions and complex care needs. Speak to your doctor to find out what service you might be able to access.


Acknowledgements

Chief Health Professions Office


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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