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Speech therapy Gold Coast Katrine Elliott Optimal Communications

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!!

The child’s brain is understood to go through a hardening at 7 years of age but we understand as speech pathologists that the fine tuning development of the minds structures to enable maturation of the listening, speech and language systems can be under development until as late as grade 4 for normal children.

These structures include:

  • auditory processing machinery-the brain functions that perceive and integrate information that is heard
  • the phonological machinery-the brain functions that develops the 46 speech sound grid like a computer keyboard that synthesizes the speech sounds into words when we speak and also later when we learn to read and spell
  • the language processing machinery- the brain functions that store and link words for meaning and create sentences structures and attach this to what we are thinking about
  • the cognitive processing functions-the minds ability to focus attention to concentrate, sequence and effectively integrate information in a smooth and organised manner. These skills also rely on the minds ability to create memories and to transfer information into storage, hold it there and then retrieve it for when the other parts of the mind need that information.


Our human capabilities even go beyond this with our development of language and then literacy skills for reading, spelling and writing in that we are life long learners based on the teaching, stimulation and practice we provide for our brains to develop. Our chosen careers and activities can impact on how far that can actually go…and the stratosphere is the limit!

What we do know is that building the minds individual skills and then enabling this to integrate successfully and efficiently operates similar to what we expect of a well functioning computer. It relies on strong components, rapid processing speed, good integration and communication of its parts. It must also have great storage for memory and an ability to retrieve this information from memory. However, lets get something clear. The end product is then based on what we store on our computer for information and then what we use it for…that is what comes out as an end product. We can have the best computer sitting on the shelf of a store in a box-but unless it is put to work-Magic doesn’t happen.


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So when considering the true value of corrective speech therapy, and it being undertaken in the early years, consider how useful your computer would be running with a:

  • faulty keyboard (mixed of speech sound units-phonological impairment),
  • words spitting out the wrong meanings (semantic impairment),
  • the programs being unable to communicate with each other to create basic documents (building thoughts to sentences-language impairment)
  • an inability to hold sentences in the memory (auditory processing/auditory memory impairments)
  • the ability to synthesis and pull together information in a succinct and smooth way (integration impairments) and
  • being unable to stay on the task you were working on with screens popping up everywhere (attention impairments).


Now consider a day at work or school trying to get your project completed…and this is a day in the life of a child with untreated attention, auditory processing, speech and/or language impairments.

It makes sense that these students with inattention , listening, speech and language impairments become frustrated, angry, act out and sometimes just give up on learning, they give up on school and some also can give up on the enjoyment in life.

I’m hard pressed to handle 15 minutes of my computer acting up like this when I have work to complete without walking away in frustration for a coffee or screaming for our technical troubleshooting Kerry to help! I also have invested significantly in having the hardware and software on my office and work computers to underake the demand of speed, capacity and storage that my activities require. So it would be even more important to invest in our minds…which essential run these computers to get the project-assignment-BLOG-video-presentation or internet search done!

The benefits of getting these neurological pathways, components and functions in order in the early years is so mandatory for children and their communication and education success. However, do remember, these children who miss out on effective and intensive treatment do grow up and the challenges continue into adult life making satisfying employment unreachable and placing a heavier loading on their employers to undertake their duties in comparison with other non-impaired individuals…making their jobs in jeopardy due to inefficiency. Most employers will consider this important point when they have to consider productivity and bottom line business sustainability and profit. So a “therapeutic intervention” stitch in time… does saves 9″ or in some cases the entire keyboard and hard drive!

Speech therapy Speech PAthologist Gold Coast Optimal Communications Katrine Elliott Rehabilitation Speech impairments language impairments Speech therapy fundingThe true cost of TO PAY or NOT TO PAY is not the question in regards to investment into speech therapy…it is …






I get a lot of pleasure in my job when supporting a pre-school entry child through a complex speech and language correction program, when I get to say to the family when we have achieved our goals of therapy in early speech (phonological processing therapy) and development of their language …”They are now ahead in their literacy skills for PREP and possibly GRADE 1 so you can sleep at night for a little while and not worry.” This is often achieved because the program we are using works to develop these literacy skills at the same time. For students that do traditional phonological processing therapy can have the speech components corrected but the underlying deficits may lie dormant in the engineering neurological machinery that emerge later when they develop literacy. What I mean is… they may have a /k/ sound said as a /t/ sound (velar fronting phonological pattern) and the speech therapy may have targeted the real words held in the minds filing drawer, but not changed the underlying program-or keyboard-so when they learn to read and spell, out pop the same error patterns (eg. RUSKIN read as “rustin“).

How correction for this is achieved is not brain surgery but is brain therapy.

So it does need expertise to achieve the outcomes that just more teaching at home, kindy and school doesn’t achieve. It is how it is taught and who it is taught by that makes the difference.

This is because in the therapy program we have put time into strengthening the machinery for their auditory, phonological, language and literacy (reading & spelling) skills and secured the machinery ready for processing what they need for school. The bonus is that to develop the engineering of the mind, we need to use sounds, words, sentences and learning of material to do this, which is what I call the software entry. So not only do the kids get their minds strengthened, they gain the information that they then learn in PREP and GRADE 1 through the biproduct of the therapy tasks undertaken. Children who don’t have the corrective therapy with impairments get the software at school but their hardware is not capable of reading or processing the information when it is learned.

Therapy needs to include both correction of the hardware and addition of the  software. 

A successful speech therapy correction program is a process.

It is the assessment, diagnosis, individually developed programs that are undertaken by our qualified – certified Speech Pathology practitioners that know how to adjust and implement what is required. No surgeon is going to jump into work without absolutely knowing what they are operating on. We need to do the same…otherwise we waste your child’s time and your families money.

We make it look easy…but working with the moving parts of a young child (ie. sitting still, concentrating, fidgeting, interruptions, emotional outbursts, avoidance behaviour-tantrums, reinforcement schedules they want) is far harder than repairing a computer and does take years to develop the competency of undertaking the necessary therapeutic task with so many other variables happening in the room. Some days it feels more like being a black belt in a dojo in a speech therapy clinical room to undertake the necessary treatment tasks. However, the training, the effort and the dedication from years in clinical practice is well worth the wonderful outcomes seen daily and to see the impact on the child skills, the family worry and their academic success over time.


I have a medicare referral…Will that do the trick?

speech therapy optimal communications katrine elliott gold coast speech impairment speech pathologistIt is not a quick few session fix or a 5 sessions paid by medicare (EPC) program. It is step by step, scaffolded and layered therapy program that consistently builds the networks that stabilise the solid life long changes in the child’s mind. Speech therapy is more like designing, building and furnishing a house than buying medication from a script. So we all need to be on the same page as we enter into that commitment to gain success. We should also view the asset of our communication in our life at this level of importance. Maybe we should consider our correction programs like our rent and mortgage…investment over time…as the products of the benefits are life long. COMMUNICATION whether written or spoken is certainly up there for importance with PROTECTION (housing) and EATING (nutrition) …as PRIMARY FUNCTIONS not luxury benefits.

Imagine a day without being able to express a sentence…How much actually gets done. Have a try…see how long you last and then you will see why I named our Sponsorship Program Zip It Up fro Kids.

Maybe we should consider the value of this when comparing private health paybacks that are received for dental for braces to reshape teeth, rather than to correct speech, language and literacy impairments. We actually have a cure-by the way. It’s called speech therapy and is outcome proven with empirical science and research  to actually work. Many families don’t even question the dentist for the $3000-$4000 bill for the braces…but most families and other professionals in the community do question the bill for SPEECH THERAPY…except those that attend who receive the benefits weekly and know the value.

So consider this in your decisions to move forward and in prioritising speech pathology specialist service and what impact on function and impact on life they have. We don’t need another TV, Xbox, Pair of Nike’s, new handbag, flashy ring, gold bracelet…not over the cost of vital neurological correction in children’s minds. I have been known to be the therapist that does speak up and advocate for the client and on some occasions I have even been brash enough to mention to a client with many big, diamond rings on their fingers…”If you sell that you will be able to trade it in to finance the support to work to get the rehabilitation to get your speech back“.

Speech PAthology Gold Coast Katrine Elliott Optimal Communications Neurological therapy rehabilitation WOW! I find it interesting that when I do…I am the out spoken one…yes I am.

I am just speaking up for someone who can’t. The communicationally impaired person and their brain.

Over 20 years of professional experience working with children and adults, I have witnesses the community sector government decision makers not waking up to the importance of this concept after significant lobbying from Speech Pathologist…but I know that families are not that foolish…because it is their KIDS that suffer from the lack of support.




Katrine Elliott is an experienced Certified Senior Speech Pathologist with over 20 years clinical practice supporting children and adults with communication and swallowing disorders/skills. As now part of a team at Optimal Communications, they built and developed the Once Upon A Time Therapy Centre in Southport-Gold Coast.

1 Comment

  1. This is a great article! Thanks for this BLOG as I had a daughter who was having difficulties with speech and was waiting on a list not knowing that this time waiting may have been stopping her from progressing forward.

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