What is Speech Pathology, and can I use NDIS funding?

How do I tell if Speech Pathology can help?

Speech Pathology is a vital therapy for many people struggling with communication skills which may include verbal, visual or social communication.

In this article, we discuss: what Speech Pathology is, and what the costs are for you. You’ll discover what funding is available for it, and what you need to provide to be approved for it in your NDIS Plan.

Four adults holding blank coloured speech bubbles and smiling

What is Speech Pathology?

Speech Pathologists are university qualified practitioners who have studied the use and implementation of language from a verbal, visual and social perspective. They work closely with their patient to improve communication skills for a wide range of developmental delays, injuries and medical conditions causing reduced communication abilities in individuals.

In addition, because Speech Pathologists understand communication in its various forms, they are skilled at assisting with literacy learning delays and can help patients who have trouble with eating and swallowing food. Their skills are varied and may be deemed reasonable and necessary supports for you or your child.

The Speech Pathologist is known under a wide range of titles such as:

  1. Speech Pathologist

  2. Speech-Language Pathologist

  3. Speech Therapy or Speech Therapist

  4. Speech Teacher

There is little to no difference between the titles of the therapist, but the most commonly accepted name is Speech Pathologist or Speech Therapist.

What support does a Speech Therapist offer?

Speech Therapists offer a range of supports for varying issues related to communication and the use of language. Many of the supports are offered to children in the early years, where they may have language delays both with the understanding of others and being understood by others.

The reasons why you might need speech therapy differ from person to person.

They can help with:

  1. Stuttering

  2. Unclear speech

  3. Cerebral Palsy

  4. Autism Spectrum Disorder

  5. Neurological conditions

  6. Swallowing or chewing difficulties

  7. Intellectual disabilities (e.g. reading or communication difficulties)

Typically, in these situations, the Speech-Language Pathologist will conduct an assessment of your child’s abilities and propose a program aimed at increasing the skills and ability of your child. And, if you or your child has trouble with swallowing or feeding, a Speech Pathologist will intervene with exercises and techniques to improve your condition.

An additional area where Speech Pathologists expertise is required can be to assist professionals with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Typically, the assessment will be completed with one or more other specialists and the Speech Pathologist will follow ‘The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF)’ in receptive language, expressive language and social language skills.

Conditions more often found in older people which may require the intervention of a Speech Therapy Specialist include:

  • Strokes and brain injuries

  • Dementia

  • Hearing loss

Where can I find a Speech Pathologist?

As with most things, the best way to find a Speech Pathologist is by word of mouth through a trusted friend or colleague. Failing that, you can find in-practice and mobile therapists on the Speech Pathology Australia website.

Make sure you are clear about what you are trying to achieve with your therapist. You can even share your, or your child’s NDIS participant goals so they have a clearer picture of how they can support you.

If you find that you’re not compatible, you have the right to change therapists. Make sure you keep searching until you find someone you are happy with, and can relate to.

How the NDIS can help with the cost of Speech Therapy?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been established to assist eligible people who have a permanent and significant disability and give them access to individualised support to improve their skills and independence.

The NDIS is about helping you live your best life and your funding decisions are based on the goals you put in your plan. Speech Pathology is funded as a ‘Capacity Building’ support, and to apply for it in your NDIS plan, you’ll need to provide a recent assessment and report from a Speech Pathologist that shows how their therapy will help you reach your NDIS goals.

How do I prove to the NDIS that Speech Therapy is necessary?

The Speech Pathologist should provide clear recommendations on what goals they will be working to achieve with you or your child. As a result, the Speech Therapist will need to compile an NDIS Statement of Outcomes for you to submit during your planning meeting for the NDIA Agency to make an informed decision, and subsequent approval.

For participants using a Speech Therapist for NDIS purposes, you will need to arrange a Service Agreement which will document the fees and charges related to the service, including how much, they’ll charge for a NDIS Outcomes Report. Refer to Speech Pathology Australia’s website for an indication of fees for service.

If you think Speech Therapy could help you or your child, reach out to find someone you can work with. We hope the information here provides you some ideas on how to find a Speech Therapist and what you can do to apply for this type of therapy in your NDIS plan.

Over to you

Have you used a Speech Pathologist for Therapy before? What’s your best advice for someone thinking about engaging with a Speech Therapist? Let us know in the comments below.


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