What is the difference between speech and language?
Language is the way people communicate with each other, often involving words and symbols organised into a set of grammatical rules and shared by a group or culture e.g. French, Spanish, Japanese and English are all languages. Languages can be spoken, signed and written. Language is fundamental to being human and it’s what separates us from other animals. Speech is the sounds that come out of our mouths and noses (with help from our cranial nerves, lungs, vocal cords, throats, soft palates, teeth, facial and neck muscles and tongues). Speech is organised in a series of patterns to make up words that need to be pronounced a certain way to make sense. Speech is one way that we express thoughts and feelings verbally. But it’s not the only way humans communicate!
When should my child start talking? Around 12 months first words emerge. They may not be clear but should be consistent used in context and have meaning for the child. e.g. pointing at a ball and saying "bah" some children may take longer to talk. but if at 18 months they still have no words or less than 10 words it's worth getting an assessment.
Do I need a referral to see a speech pathologist?
No you don't. If you have concerns about your or your child's speech, language, fluency or feeding you can come to see a speech pathologist for an assessment without a referral from a GP or paediatrician. Even if another professional tells you- "Don't worry they will grow out of it" or just "Wait and see" If you are concerned- trust your instincts and get an objective assessment form a speech pathologist trained in speech and language development. Medicare rebates may be available with a referral from a GP or paediatrician. Check out our funding page for more information.
How do I know when my child needs help from a speech pathologist?
See the red flags for referral guidelines below developed by Queensland Health. If your child has any red flags in the social or communication domains go and see a speech pathologist for an assessment. Any red flags in fine motor and cognition they need to see an Occupational Therapist. Gross motor red flags a physiotherapist is needed for an assessment.
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