• Building 9, 3 Jackman Street, Southport. Qld 4215
  • Call now: 07 5528 2222

Regulating play for your AUTISTIC CHILD

Is your Autistic child's exploratory behaviour causing problems in therapy or during your day?

One of the most difficult problems that parents and therapists face in being able to manage the self-directed exploratory play of the Autistic child. Autistic children may be still learning our rules of the environment such as we sit in the waiting room in a chair, we don’t touch that person’s toys, we don’t raid the therapist toy shelf, we don’t strip the supermarket of all the yummy food when we go shopping.

Families who are new to understating Autistic children are coming to learn that their child may not understand the social context and the social rules of play and their environment. For example, the Speech Pathologist prefers that you stay and work on the task in front of her rather than the one on the second shelf that you spotted.

Children with language comprehension impairment as well as self-directed and sometimes compulsive thinking patterns can be difficult to communicate with when they set their interests on a task or toy. We use the session regulation tool of the available-not available scarf to support learning this function of WAITGO-FINISHED PLAY—PLAY WITH THIS ONE NOW. Autistic children can respond poorly to NO, MISTAKE, or NAUGHTY or BAD. This is why the RED was not used but the checkered flag pattern.

The RED is used for emergency when STOP or RISK is required. To find out the WHY about how children feel the colours in words, join our community of families who are learning about various communication conditions to gain their answers about their child. Speech Therapy DIY is here to help.

Trust me as a clinical Speech Pathologist – it is a lifesaver and I would never have a session without various types of session regulating tools such as this Available-Not Available scarf at my disposal. Visit the BLOG list to find out about the others you can use.

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Join our list for the information based on the STEPS to using the session regulation tool so you can share it with your family, your kindergarten or school support team.

For those families without the ability to stitch a straight line or who have no access to a sewing machine, you can visit our SHOP and order your own SCARF from us. These come in various sizes to suit your needs such as LARGE to block out a entire activity over a table, MEDIUM to block out playing with a toy in the middle of an activity and even iPAD holders to enable your child to finally reach the dining table for a meal or to sit there.

Some days after a long day of teaching SPECTRUM children, I have often considered throwing it over me-just so I can have 5 minutes break to sip my coffee. I know some of our families will appreciate this-just don’t do it when driving!

Help your Autistic child keep to the activities and tasks that suit your day schedule and routine. The AVAILABLE– and NOT AVAILABLE scarf supports you to regulate the flow of task and saves you the problems from meltdowns and concerns.

The medium sized scarf is suitable to have in your handbag when you are on the go. You simply pull it out and block the item in your child’s interest that they may be heading for that it out of bounds to their play. Use the green side to then show them what they can play with when their is an item of interest that your child would like to engage with.

Show your child what they need to learn and know about BOUNDARIES OF PLAY and POSSESSION of goods, toys and items in their day. Many of us think we are entitled to everything unless we are taught otherwise. Your Autistic child just needs to learn this human rule. Be part of our Speech Therapy DIY community by joining our family list and you will gain a lesson sheet based on how to implement this wonderful tool. (on the BLOG page or you can visit www.speechtherapyDIY.com directly)

Available on request from the Optimal Communications Speech Pathology clinic. Save anguish and your child from having to experience meltdowns about change in routine or disappointment from wanting a toy when they don’t understand it is not available for them to play with.

Order your medium sized scarf now.

Also available in large sizes and iPAD bags.

Join our FREE BLOG list for families with tips of how to use it from qualified Speech Pathologists.

It’s a good day when you don’t leave home without it. 🙂 


Speech development

Is my child's speech developing normally?

Children develop speech errors as part of their normal development of their speech.
However, a speech pathologist is able to determine what is happening with your child’s auditory development, speech production and speech motor skills by the type of errors that they are demonstrating at a particular age.
Identification and the early intervention of speech sounds errors that are delayed in their development or abnormal in their profile is essential to enable your child to reach the mental maturity to then be capable of learning to read, spell and write.
To learn more, enter your details in the FREE list to be part of our Speech Pathology support community.
We aim to help many children and families who may have limited access to support due to distance, availability, waiting lists and challenges in accessing private speech pathology services from limited funding support.
This way, you can decide for yourself… if your child needs Speech Pathology help or whether you want to support your child with Speech Therapy DIY from home.

Speech error patterns- Phonological processes

For instance, let’s take a brief look at one phonological process, the stopping process, to see how this can lead to further investigations and understandings about your child’s development. The stopping process involves a series of sound substitutions where a child may substitute a:
  • /f/ sound for a /p/ sound
  • /v/ sound for a /b/ sound
  • /s/ sound for a /t/ sound
  • /z/ sound for a /d/ sound
  • /th/ sound for a /d/ sound


It is important that children have established their speech sound GRID as this enables their mind to then have matured the mental machinery to be capable of reading and spelling when they reach the classroom.
Children can show many different types of speech sound processes which we call phonological processes. Many of these are normal at specific ages in a child’s process to develop speech, however, many can be detected early to be abnormal. As Speech Pathologists, we can identify what may be happening with your child’s development based on the type of error in their speech.
Sometimes this may be:
Challenges from hearing impairment or middle ear infections
Challenges from weakness in developing auditory processing skills
Challenges in developing the ability to construct speech-verbal dyspraxia or a phonological disorder
Restriction to the mobilisation of the tongue from a tongue tie (ankyloglossius)
Challenges with sensory-motor integration development
Early identification of challenges due to autistic spectrum disorder and associated conditions
Challenges from intellectual development


Your child’s speech error profile can sometimes give us early diagnostic information as to WHAT may be happening to cause your child’s challenges. Early identification means we can provide EARLY INTERVENTION … enabling your child to reach their Optimal Communication potential. 

Speech development-2

Is my child's speech developing normally

Children develop speech errors as part of their normal development of their speech. However, a speech pathologist is able to determine what is happening with your child’s auditory development and speech production and speech motor skills by the type of errors that they are demonstrating at a particular age.
Click through to our information page to see what speech sounds are acceptable for your child’s specific age and to see if they are showing speech patterns that are ready for school age for entry into PREP.

speech development

Phonological processes-the Stopping Process

Some of these error patterns are acceptable at different ages in your child’s speech development, however some may also indicate something entirely different at a later age from the eyes of a trained professional.
Some children are late to mature these delicate – fine tuning tongue skills to place their tongue tip, and sides in the specific points which can be in error by millimetre sized mistakes.
Some children can have sensory problems with what is known as proprioreceptive control which manages these fine sensory-and-motor feedback loops in our body.
Your child may be showing challenges in their sensory-motor development and may be over squeezing or stopping the passage of air to create a /s/ sound, making the air stop into a /t/ sound. These minor articulation position errors could be the peak of the iceberg for other sensory-motor challenges in the body impacting on speech and learning development.

YOURS FREE!!! Just pay postage- $7.95 Phonic All Star Learn the Speech Sound A3 Wallchart- CALL 55282222

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Phonic All Star Learn the Alphabet A3 Posters

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Phonic All Star Floor Frieze

Phonic All Star Upper-n-Lowercase Letter Matching and Phonological Awareness Poster

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Speech therapy resources that make speech correction easy

It’s important to have your tools to do your job. The Phonic All Star Program enables you to have access to every one of the 46 speech sounds that may become part of the program to correct your child’s speech. Just like an artists palette, you will need all your colours to do the job.

“Maths just doesn’t work if you are missing – 3 and 9. So how can you undertake correction therapy if you are using the 26 letter alphabet when you really need a 46 speech sound alphabet.”

To kick off your tool kit, you will receive your 46 speech sound grid summary wall chart as a complimentary starter kit when your child attend their 3-7 years screening assessment with us after we examine their Speech Sound Grid using the Phonic All Star Flash cards and the Learn the Speech Sounds A3 laminated Wall Chart as pictured to the left. The wall chart features the 24 consonant phonemes and the 22 vowels phonemes so that your child is equipped with all the “keys to the speech keyboard” so that s/he can learn effectively in speech therapy at home or in the clinic. To get your copy for yourself, just simply call the clinic on 55 28 2222 or send us an email.

Additionally, when  join our community list to the left, we kick start their school learning by giving you a digital download of their “Learn Their Letters” A4 folder guide from the Phonic All Star Teaching Series. Following that, you can gain your additional bonus A4 resource of the Phonic All Stars-Matching Upper and lowercase graphemes so that you can teach your child their upper and lower case font awareness skills.  Just simply add your details to the right opt-in box – and it will be sent as a digital download to your email – immediately.

FREE- No wait – and strictly no nagging or spamming. Our community list is built to support and serve the members of our community and their children. Why wait on a list for Speech Therapy services doing nothing, when at least you can get started by learning and undertaking simple tasks under the guidance of a qualified Speech Pathology team! Your child’s brain does not wait for us.

Don't forget you can get started at home with your Phonic All Star -Learn the Speech Sounds- Starter pack
Pack includes:
1. The 46 laminated speech sound cards
2 2 X Music Cd-Cruisin' with the Consonants & Carnival of Sound
3. The teach-Me-Speech-Sounds Workbook
4. The speech therapy rewards program-tokens/stickers
5. The speech correction activities
6. Training lessons to get you started & keep you on track
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So what do I expect to see if my child attended Speech Therapy to correct this problem?

Therapy will involve teaching your child about each of these specific speech sounds and how they are produced using the articulators such as the lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate, voice and breath. The Phonic All Star Program is a great resource to help you to undertake this. The program clearly teaches how each speech sound is made and gives your child heaps of visual pictures and video to learn. The Phonic All Star characters have been designed to associate with the speech sound and give young children a hint to remember the sound. The program also uses a hand signal to cue your child so that you have a mutual language to prompt which sound you want her/him to say.

A lesson teaching the stopping process would involve a series of speech sound contrast exercises whereby it is recommended that these are done in a developmental order based on your child’s examination results from their phonological assessment. I would start with…

/f/- “Fabian Flowerspray contrasted with /p/-“Portia Candle

/s/- “Sidney Snake” contrasted with /t/- “Toby Tap”

/z/- ” Zippy Bumble Bee” contrasted with /d/ – “Dudley Drum

/sh/- Shelly Shy contrasted with /t/- Toby Tap and /zh/- Zha Zha Shocking contrasted with /d/- Dudley Drum

/th/- Thana Thong contrasted with /d/- Dudley Drum

Teach-Me-speech-sounds manual, Phonic All Stars

Image as demonstrated from the Phonic All Star – Teach Me Speech Sounds Home Workbook. The Workbook features how all the Consonant Speech Sounds are formed in the mouth so that you as parents can also learn how to  teach your child from home. Available with a call to the clinic 55282222

Traditional, researched and outcome measured SPEECH CORRECTION THERAPY involves a series of steps

1Shaping of the speech sound that can not be said accurately
2Contrasting the minimal pairs eg. /s/ and /t/ at sound level
3Contrasting the minimal pairs at word level for a) initial word b) final word c) middle word position
4Practice of these words at the phrase and then sentence level speech
5Practice of these words at conversational level speech

A great resource to help you achieve this is Articulation Station which you can purchase on a sound by sound basis and save on the expense of purchasing sounds you may not need.

For a Speech pathologist review and guide to this app click here.

However, this method of speech therapy is good at correcting the sound error patterns for the words that have been learned and stored in your child’s “word filing cabinet” in the mind, but the underlying coding challenges may still be evident as a weakness in your child’s mind and may later show up in their reading and spelling skills as the same speech errors in their writing of letters when spelling words. The Phonic All Star Speech Correction Program teaches how to go deeper into your child’s engineering speech sound keyboard and to make corrections that are strong and stable enabling transition into literacy function to be accurate and completed.

However, an assessment is very important to identify the underlying etiology. In some cases, this may be part of more complex conditions as a collection of challenges. If so these may also need to be addressed.

Your child may have associated receptive language challenges and may not understand what you are saying. S/he may have trouble speaking in sentences and may be struggling to create enough words for you to then develop the speech sound system from this. Your child may have fine motor and gross motor challenges making it hard for them to keep their postural stability to then control the fine motor muscles in their mouth. Some children can have challenges with focus and attention, while others may be impossible to get to sit in the chair due to self directed and even oppositional behaviour. If this is the case with any of these additional features then you will need to learn skills to manage these associated conditions so that you can teach your child exactly how to make these speech changes.

This can be done with your Speech Pathologist in their clinical sessions or via your skype consultations. Others may be interested by learning from the DIYspeech therapy that enables motivated families to undertake their self-help from home.  However, a word of warning for those independent parent-therapists who are maintaining a low cost program, it may be of benefit to just have your child briefly checked by a specialist and Speech Pathologist. It is not uncommon for some children to wait for up to 12 month for a FREE government service and to unfortunately miss the cut-off date for vital funding opportunities which would have enabled them to have a professional do the job quicker and accurately. My best recommendation is to do both-have the professional working with you to give you the guidance to provide additional support sessions at home. Save the money on the in-between sessions and don’t miss the mark for accuracy. Your child’s brain doesn’t wait for us to get it right, it continues to grow and make neurological connections. We prefer to have these wired correctly as quickly as they can so they are then not impacting on the development of their words and sentences that are piling into their mind for the years to come. It gets very time consuming and costly to do the correction work when years have passed.

Sometimes it is simple – quick to correct and your child is ready to go for their school years.

However, in some instances, early identification can enable the speech therapy intervention before their school years for complex conditions such as Autism or other communication disorders. What we do know, is speech therapy works. The changes are life changing the earlier we start.

How far can one toy go in Speech Therapy?

Using toys to gain Optimal Communication Potential in your child's home speech therapy program

Being creative and ingenious is one of the first skills to learn to be a Speech Pathologist or an integral part of the Speech Therapy team. Many people can often be involved in supporting your child to develop their speech and language skills over the years of their early development. It is common to have fantastic input from Kindergarten teachers, school teachers, therapy aides, and also you, being the parents undertaking your child’s home program.

Having the right equipment is very helpful to supporting your child to learn many speech and language tasks, however it is not the MOST important factor.

The most important factor is having the skills to know WHAT you are doing and whether it is the right task or skill to be focusing on to make the greatest differences based on your child’s neuro-developmental age and their observed challenges. Your child will need an assessment from a Speech Pathologist to determine what that is.

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Bring in the Mr. Potato Head Crew… to make Speech Therapy at home fun for your child. Use the toys you have in a different way.
Speech therapy speech and language stimulation home program

Here are some Mr Potato Head ideas for games:

  1. Movie making with Mr Potato Head (Pictello)
  2. Using Mr Potato Head to Motivate Multistep Sequences
  3. Learning Vocabulary with Mr Potato Head
  4. Going on a Treasure Hunt with Mr Potato Head
  5. Learning Phonic All Stars speech sound cards with Mr Potato Head


Join the list to get your downloadable pdf’s so you can get started from home!

Get your FREE Phonic All Star home therapy beginners resources.

Developing your child's listening skills

A toy can be used in so many different ways to stimulate your child’s communications skills, so you may be able to save on all the expense of the resources when you invest your time in learning what to do. We have some tips to help you get started, however join the list on the left for more help across amny areas of listening, speech, language, early literacy and social-pragmatic skills.

TIP # 1: Following Spoken instructions

Mr Potato head says…  

Use Mr Potato head to facilitate a Simon Says style of activity where Mr Potato head provides the instructions and your child has to accurately listen and carry out the instruction.  If they do so, they can opt to change 1 item of Mr Potato Heads body per correct instruction followed! So the toy acts as the actual reinforcement for your child after each verbal instruction and then connects your child back to the lesson to listen to the next instruction. This is important as some children can wander away when they get bored.

To read more about how…enter our list to the right to collect the password for onsite page access.

Let us give you loads of fun ideas about how to get the most out of Mr. Potato Head across heaps of tasks with your child

Part B-How far can one toy go in Speech Therapy?

Home Speech Therapy Lesson 1
Make the toy the reinforcement schedule

Choosing appropriate toys to stimulate your child’s speech and language skills is the start to developing skills for home speech therapy.

Mr Potato Head is a favorite as this toys allows for you to break the activity up into rewarding bite sized tasks as your child enjoys the process of building new Mr. Potato Head characters.

The skill to follow verbal instructions is essential for your child to progress forward with learning across many settings such as at home, kindergarten and school.

Compliancy to follow the teacher’s spoken instructions is essential for classroom success. Learning how to do this well at an early age can be critical to their success in moving forward in many skills and subjects. Children with challenges in following instructions and listening can further compromise their language development to deteriorate over years if specialised support is not sought out early. Impairments in learning can be the result of this long term. Academic and occupational restrictions can lead to significant frustration and lowering of self-esteem.

Some children can struggle to comprehend what is said to them due to many different reasons. Here are some of these reasons…


speech therapy equipmentYour child may be distracted and may not be able to attend to what you are saying to them.


speech therapy resoucesYour child may have hearing challenges.


Speech therapy resourcesYour child may not be able to process the verbal information due to problems in hearing the components of speech and language. This may be problems with auditory processing of the sounds in words. It may also be difficulties understanding what words mean.


Your child’s mind may be directed towards another idea or toy. This compulsion to play with that toy may stop them from following the instructions that you are giving them.
speech therapy resourcesYour child may become confused when there are so many words to have to process and remember and may not be able to hold these all in their mind at once.
So how does Mr. Potato Head help us do this

We can start young by playing a game using one of the all-time favourite toys that kids just love. Let all be clear…Mr Potato Head in whatever dress he appears in, is just more interesting that an adult—right!? So let him be the star of the lesson and let him teach your child. Sometimes this may bring interest and compliancy for the child that you just can’t please or keep on track.

Optimal Communications Speech Pathology katrine elliott autistic spectrum disorder behaviour management
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: Mr Potato head says…  

Use Mr Potato head to facilitate a Simon Says style of activity where Mr Potato head provides the instructions and your child has to accurately listen and carry out the instruction.  If they do so, they can opt to change 1 item of Mr Potato Head’s body per correct instruction followed! So the toy acts as the actual reinforcement for your child after each verbal instruction and then connects your child back to the lesson to listen to the next instruction. This is important as some children can wander away when they get bored.

speech therapy resourcesFirst, build Mr Potato Head while your child watches you have fun. As you add the body parts and accessories one at a time, show your child what you are doing as you say the sentences. eg. “I think I will put in his eyes next.”
speech therapy home program

Tell your child

We’re going to play a game of ‘Mr Potato Head Says!

Explain the rules –

 “In this game we need to use our good listening skills

Mr Potato Head is going to ask you to carry out an action or two, are you ready?”

speech therapy home program

Start with simple 1 part instructions

e.g. “Mr Potato head says…

Touch your nose”,

 “… Sit on the floor”. 

If they perform the action accurately, they are able to choose a body part to remove and gradually replace to make a new character. Then your child can add new accessory.

If this tasks is too easy? Start to include more complex instructions that contain 2 parts of information your child needs to process.

For example, “Hop on one foot and sing Happy Birthday

Clap your hands two times and then poke out your tongue.”

Be creative as you can with the instructions. 


If your child is over 4 years, they may be able to follow instructions with 3-4 components and use words that tell your child how to comprehend the sentences structural order-such as words like after-


For example-

After you touch your left shoulder, count down from 10 backwards.”

If, I clap my hands, put your hands on your head.”

When I say the name of an animal, you put two crystals in the small bucket.”

After I say the letter B, point to only two other letters on the alphabet card.

Phonic All Stars in home speech therapy, language delay, speech delayYou can integrate your Phonic All StarLEARN THE ALPHABET” Cards into your following instructions tasks. This way your child can also learn about the Alphabet letters.


“Point to the letter that is after the letter T.”

“Put the blue crystal on the letter that is under the letter S.”

Phonic All Star Wall chart in home speech therapyThen teach your child the individual speech sounds using the “Phonic All StarLearn the SPEECH SOUNDS” wallchart or folderguide.

eg. “Point to the one that says “chuh… after you point to the one that say “sss”.

Point to the sounds “mmm—ffff–rrrr” in that order.


  • To Increase the time of your child’s listening attention
  • To extend on your child’s listening memory skills
  • To teach the meaning of various words and concepts to your child. These can include: Nouns (naming words The man, the caterpillar), verbs (action-doing words eg. Eating, laughing), prepositions (space and place words eg. In, besides, through), adjectives (words that describe the nouns eg. hungry, angry) and pronouns (words that reference people and things eg. He, she, them , it)
  • To manage self-directed behaviour if your child is showing autistic spectrum traits or oppositional defiance traits.
autistic spectrum disorder, behavioural challenges, difficulty with listening
What does this look like?

This looks like children who can understand what you are saying, but choose not to follow what you are saying. It can be based on a special or intense interest in something else or a will to do the opposite to what you want.

Either way, this behaviour significantly gets in the way of learning and development of speech and language skills. Later it can be a great interference with classroom learning. If you see some of these traits, do not leave this and make contact with us to offer you support. Some children need to be identified early to give intense early intervention. Also, some communication disorders identified in children in their early years, families may be able to access funding for this early intervention support for Speech Pathology services. A diagnosis from a professional consortium which will involve a Speech Pathologist with a special interest and experience in these conditions is essential for this process to be undertaken.

We can help.

Pay now-or pay later

Pay now-or pay later

The true expense of Speech and Language Impairments

Children failing to acquire speech and language skills demonstrate weakness and/or impairment in developing their neuro-machinery that underpin their fundamental learning skills for classroom success. The earlier the intervention, the easier the correction program undertaken by Speech Pathologists for effort, time and most importantly, your family’s budget. Don’t lose precious brain development time by waiting on a list for speech therapy when their brain doesn’t wait. Instead, your child’s underlying impairment continues to hard wire pathways in the brain incorrectly , stores and then rehearses these speech and language mistakes having a disastrous impact on communication and future classroom failure- showing the true cost of the choice of no therapy.

Early speech therapy intervention for your child is a no-brainer!! … it’s critical!!

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Why is spelling so confusing?

Spelling can be such a struggle for so many children when they are developing their literacy skills.

At the first stage of learning, they need to develop their phonological processing skills (speech sound processing) and their phonological awareness skills (speech sound awareness skills). The first is developed by the brain growing and engineering itself (eg. auditory memory, auditory discrimination, sound synthesis, the sound chain length, the sound processing speed, capacity to hold-store-retrieve and manipulate sound information), whilst the other is taught as skills (ie. rhyming, sound decoding, sound encoding, blending sounds, segmenting sounds in words, syllabification, sound identification manipulation). The Phonic All Star program assists to teach kids these skills in a fun and exciting way and you can order the basic starter pack to get you on the way to success. This assists kids to learn the first stage o acquiring their literacy skills for PREP and Grade 1 skills.

Phonic All Stars Katrine Elliott Optimal Communications Speech therapy resources articulation therapy speech impairment auditory processing impairment

Once these skills are achieved, then students then progress to understanding spelling rules which include skill development at the orthographic stage of literacy. This is a cool stage because in therapy, I can teach a spelling rule in 15 minutes and kids are then able to read 300 words straight after that. It is an enormous confidence booster for students that have struggled with reading for such a long time. They can’t believe how easy it is … and they then trust the process further and start to enjoy the next stages of therapy. This can also be for student that have been stuck with their reading level for many years. We have a cool job!

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Phonetics or Sight words…?

Phonetics or Sight words…?

When is phonetic the key to reading ? I have been told that it is most important to teach children to read by sight reading-whole word reading?

What should I do?

Katrine will provide information about this burning question that is asked by many parents in speech therapy soon. Keep posted. Read more

Is medication the answer?

Is medication the answer?

Is Medication the answer?

Many families worry about whether they should medicate their child who is diagnosed with learning challenges. When asking, “Is medication the answer?”, it is not unusual for a family to have sought out the advise of many health and education professionals in addition to their paediatrician and paediatric psychiatrist before coming to a conclusion that suits their family and their child’s needs.

This is a very controversial question and needs an in depth understand to look for options to best put forward a conclusive argument.

Read more