When Ashlee Bunce began seeing a Speech Pathologist a year ago she was a frustrated three year old.
She was having trouble expressing herself, couldn’t get certain words out and as a result, was having behavioural issues.
Fast forward to this week and now four year old Ashlee poses confidently for a photo in Speech Pathologist Stacey Harris’ consulting room at Northeast Health Wangaratta’s (NHW) Community Care Centre, showing off her work after one of her fortnightly consulting sessions.
Ashlee’s mum Kristy Passmore said the difference in her daughter over the past 12 months had been enormous.
“Ever since she started coming here, she’s just come along leaps and bounds,” Kristy said.
“Now she’s so much calmer, she shows empathy and is just so much more confident.
“We were wondering about whether to hold her back from four year old kinder and now we’re really looking forward to kinder next year.”
Ashlee was referred to NHW’s Speech Pathology team by the Maternal and Child Health Nurse, after testing just before she was three showed that she would benefit from the service.
Stacey said like many of her clients, Ashlee had benefitted from a “team approach” at home and at her day-care.
“I only see Ash once a fortnight so it really is a team effort,” she said.
“When a child is initially referred we develop goals with the parent and then set up fortnightly or monthly sessions, or education with home programs.
“The parents do a lot of the work. We’re really here as a guide and support.”
Stacey said early intervention was key in Speech Pathology.
“We want to set them up as best we can before they enter the school program,” she said.
“Studies have shown that children who enter school with language difficulties are at risk of literacy problems, poor academic achievement, low self-esteem, and social problems.”
While paediatric Speech Pathology is a major part of Stacey’s role, a Speech Pathologist at NHW will see clients from all spectrums, including elderly residents at Illoura Residential Aged Care, inpatients at the hospital or outpatients undertaking rehabilitation.
Reasons people will need to see a Speech Pathologist range from stroke to cancer, ageing, and accidents. There is a strong chance that each person will, at some stage benefit from the essential work carried out by Speech Pathologists. Speech Pathology Week is celebrated this week 21-27 August.
Anyone who requires a referral to a Speech Pathologist at NHW can contact the Community Care Centre on 5722 5555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with their GP.