Get Set For School

‘Get Set For School’ is a fun and engaging school readiness program for children commencing school in 2015. The program targets the School supplies await the first day of classfollowing important school readiness skills

1. Listening and attention
2. Understanding of language e.g. following directions, knowing school related vocabulary
3. Use of language e.g. answering questions, telling a short story
4. Pre-literacy skills e.g. counting syllables, letter-sound awareness
5. Social skills e.g. taking turns with others, asking for help

Two speech language pathologist will be guiding your child’s learning and providing you with information and home activities at the end of each session.

When: 15th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd January 2015
9:00 – 10:30am

The program is limited to 6 children, so please be quick!

Places must be reserved by Saturday 6th December 2014.

Please contact our friendly team on 9653 9955 or for any further information or to reserve your child’s place.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (aka verbal dyspraxia)

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

“As a baby, he was very quiet. He didn’t babble and make those funny noises babies make before they start to talk.”

“Ella was a late talker. When she started talking, she only seemed to be able to say a few sounds.”

“Joel finds it really frustrating. He never knows which sounds will come out of his mouth even though he knows what he wants to say.”

Children with CAS have difficulty planning, co-ordinating and producing the sounds required for clear speech. They have difficulty pronouncing individual sounds and sounds in words, sentences and conversation. As a result, their speech is often difficult for others to understand.

CAS can occur in children with or without any other developmental and/or learning difficulties. However, some children may also have:

 Oro-motor apraxia
This is characterised by difficulties coordinating the lips, tongue, palate and larynx (often presenting as difficulties with chewing and swallowing)

Generalised apraxia
This is characterised by difficulties with fine and gross motor movements such as hopping, writing, catching a ball.

What are the characteristics of CAS?

  • A limited range of speech sounds
  • Overuse of one specific sound
  • Vowel distortions
  • Inconsistency
  • Increased difficulties as words or sentences get longer
  • Leaving out sounds or substituting sounds with other sounds
  • Irregular voice volume, pitch, length, quality
  • Irregular nasality
  • Irregular rate, rhythm, stress and intonation
  • Speech that is generally difficult for others to understand

Children with CAS may also present with:

  • Family history of speech, language or learning difficulties
  • Language delay
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Literacy difficulties

What does this mean for my child?
Many children attend speech therapy to increase their speech sound pronunciation. They may have an articulation delay characterised by difficulties placing the lips, tongue and teeth in the right place to produce a sound (eg a lisp). They may have a phonological delay characterised by difficulties “using” sounds they are able to say on their own, in conversation.

Children with apraxic features often present with more severe speech sound difficulties, are inconsistent in their productions and have a higher rate of vowel distortions and sequencing of sounds than children with articulation/phonological delay.

Intervention is often more long-term for children with CAS than for those with articulation and phonological delays.

Many children with CAS present with typical comprehension of language. They therefore become very frustrated at not being understood by others.

What is the treatment for CAS?
Children with CAS require regular speech pathology intervention with a comprehensive intervention plan that is reviewed regularly as the child’s speech patterns change, evolve and improve. Parents play an important role in developing therapy goals and implementing home practice strategies. Every child is different and therapy goals require the consideration of many factors affecting the child such as school environment, siblings, other developmental needs and time restraints.

Tips for helping your child’s speech clarity

  • Provide a good model particularly if you have understood what your child has said even though his/her sounds were not accurate. For example:
    Child: “Oo, Mu, pei!” (as s/he points to the sky as a plane flies by.)
    Mum: “Yes, look a plane.”
  • Praise effort as well as success.  Give specific praise e.g. “You tried really hard to say the quiet sound for me (shhh) didn’t you? Well done.”
  • Encourage your child to SHOW you if they can’t TELL you.
  • Take the problem away from the child e.g. “Mummy, can’t understand. Can you show me what you want?” Then take the opportunity to model the word once you know what it is!

Fit Kidz Foundation Screenings

Talk Play Grow conducts a free speech and language screening morning every 2 months for the Fit Kidz Foundation.  The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2011 as the charitable arm of Fit Kidz Learning Centres.  It aims to provide a supportive environment that connects its community and enhances the lives of children and their families through the provision of services at no or minimal cost.

The speech and language screenings aim to identify children who are having difficulty with their communication development in their early years and encourage them to access early intervention services which are proven to have life long benefits for children’s learning.

For more information about the Fit Kidz Foundation and it’s services please visit the Fit Kidz website at or phone them on 9627 0770

Entertainment & Education at Muddy Boots Preschool

We all know how important it is to read stories to our toddlers, preschoolers and school aged children alike, but who would have thought story time could be this much fun? One of our Speech Language Pathologists, Liz Stubbs, had a wonderful time this month visiting the children at Muddy Boots Preschool, Kenthurst as part of their “People in our community” unit at preschool. The preschool staff enjoyed Liz’s enthusiasm and reinforcement that the use of books in play extends children’s listening, comprehension, vocabulary, imagination, attention and concentration and social interaction skills.

Stuttering: A Parent’s Guide

What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a communication disorder in which there are interruptions to speech.   The types of stuttering that may be present are:

  • Sound repetitions (e.g. t-t-t-teddy)
  • Word repetitions (e.g. my-my-my-my turn please)
  • Phrase repetitions (e.g. I want-I want a banana)
  • Blocking (i.e. getting stuck before the word)
  • Prolongation (i.e. stretching out the word)

Signs of tension or effort may also accompany these interruptions.  Stuttering can range from mild to severe and its onset may be gradual or sudden.  The severity of stuttering can also fluctuate over time.

How common is it?
Stuttering is common.  In their study Reilly et al (2013) found that 11.2% of children were stuttering by 4 years of age.  Stuttering is more common in boys than girls however it is not known why this is the case.

What causes it?
The cause of stuttering is not known.  Current thinking is that it is most likely due to some difficulties in in the brain activity involved in speech production.  It is not caused by anxiety, though feeling anxious can make stuttering worse.

It is known, however, that stuttering tends to run in families and therefore there may be a hereditary component.  There is no evidence to suggest that the way parents interact with their children leads to a child stuttering.

Will it go away by itself?
For some children they will naturally recover from stuttering without any treatment.  Currently it is not possible to predict which children will recover naturally.

The latest research suggests that a “watchful waiting” period of up to a year is not detrimental to the outcome of treatment, however individual circumstances must always be taken into account.  There are certain characteristics that indicate immediate treatment is required.  As such, it is recommended to seek advice from a speech language pathologist if your child begins stuttering.

There are programs that have been proven to be very effective in the treatment of childhood stuttering.  The most widely used in Australia is a program developed by Sydney University’s Australian Stuttering Research Centre called The Lidcombe Program.  It is recommended that stuttering treatment being during the preschool years.

If you are concerned your child is stuttering please feel free to contact the team at Talk Play Grow on 9653 9955.  Our speech language pathologists are experienced in working with children who stutter and can provide you with advice and guidance.

Australian Stuttering Research Centre (2012).  What is Stuttering?  Retrieved 22 March, 2014, from

Reilly, S. et al (2013).  Natural history of stuttering to 4 years of age: A prospective Community-Based Study.  Pediatrics, 132(2), 460-467.  Doi: 10.1542/peds.2012.3076

Stuttering (2011).  Retrieved 21 March, 2014, from

An inspirational young man

I feel so privileged to have been able help this boy on his journey of learning to listen and speak. Jonah was born profoundly deaf and now uses bilateral cochlear implants. He and his family have put in countless hours of teaching and learning that have enabled him to develop age appropriate speech and language! And to top it off his Mum let me know he won the ‘Clear Speech Award’ for his age category in a national speaking event called Power of Speech today! He is an inspirational young man.

I hope you enjoy his story, Jenni

Screening at Elbelle’s Preschool & Early Learning Centre

Jenni Harvey, principal speech language pathologist at Talk Play Grow,  is looking forward to conducting speech and language screenings with the children who attend Elbelle’s Preschool and Early Learning Centre.

The screening is for children aged 3 to 5 years.  It is a 30 min session that will involve a combination of play activities and your child looking at pictures and answering questions.  Jenni will discuss your concerns and your child’s results with you and you will be sent a written summary following the screening.

Details of the screening are:
Where: Elbelle’s Preschool and Early Learning Centre
174 Kenthurst Road, Kenthurst
When: Wednesday 30th October and Thursday 7th November 2013
9:00am – 3:30pm

Please contact Elbelle’s to book in your child on 9654 2009 (limited spaces available).

If you are interested in arranging a screening for a daycare, early learning centre or preschool please contact Jenni on 9653 9955 or complete the contact form on our website and Jenni will be in touch with you shortly.

Workshops for North West Sydney Multiple Births Association

Talk Play Grow is pleased to be presenting two fun and interactive workshops for the North West Sydney Multiple Births Association in November.

These workshops will be held at the New Parents Morning Tea and Playdays events.  These events are only open to club members of NWSBA.  For further information about the association, their membership and events please visit the NWSBA website

Parents participating in the workshops will learn a range of ideas for encouraging their children’s speech and language development using everyday activities and routines.  They will also build their confidence in identifying if and when their child may need the assistance of a speech language pathologist.  There will also be  lots of opportunities for participants to ask questions and share their personal experiences.

Talk Play Grow is able to tailor workshops to suit the needs of a range of community groups.  These workshops can address a variety of topics regarding children’s communication and use an interactive, evidence based approach to learning.  For further information please contact us on 9653 9955 or complete the form on our website.

Kindermusik at Talk Play Grow

We are very excited to announce that Little Seed Music will be conducting Kindermusik sessions at Talk Play Grow commencing 11th October 2013!

Kindermusik is the world’s most trusted music movement program for young children. Interactive and fun-filled classes are specifically designed to suit each child’s developmental stage, allowing children to not only benefit musically, but also socially, physically and cognitively while also developing language and literacy skills.  Precious moments will be spent bonding with your child while sharing a love for music and developing skills which will last a lifetime.

For further information and session times visit Little Seed Music.

It’s Speech Pathology week!

Did you know that at this moment 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating?

Did you know that almost the same number of people have trouble eating a meal or swallowing a drink safely?

Did you know that these communication and swallowing problems have far-reaching, life-changing and life limiting consequences?

If you didn’t know any of these things, it’s time to Start the Conversation.

Speech Pathology Week is the annual week that raises awareness about the hundreds of thousands of Australians who live with a communication or swallowing difficulty, as well as the professionals who work with them to improve or regain their quality of life.

This year speech pathologists around the country will be starting the conversation with you about the significant and often preventable disadvantage that people with communication and swallowing difficulties face each day.

They want you to know that these people are over-represented in the youth justice system and are much more likely to experience an adverse event in hospital. They also want you to know that they have poorer health, educational and vocational outcomes and are more prone to mental health problems than other Australians.

They also want you to know that for many, if not most people, their outcomes can be substantially improved with the right services and the right supports.