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THE Australian Bureau of Statistics has established that there are 1.2 million Australians with communication disability, which affects a person’s ability to understand and be understood by others.
Speech pathologists, like Leanne Herbert from Innisfail, work to ensure that communication is everyone’s right.
Mrs Herbert, who has 20 years’ experience in the field, works predominately with children, but also has adult clients.
Speech pathologists play a vital role in the lives of many to reach their full potential, so this week is to highlight their achievements.
A local success story is Ash-Leigh Gleeson, aged 30, who has been diagnosed with Cri du Chat syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, which is due to a partial chromosome deletion on chromosome 5.
Ash-Leigh is one of Mrs Herbert’s clients. She receives assistance from Mrs Herbert and two support workers to maintain independence at home and in the community, including tasks such as cooking, grocery shopping, and social outings.
Ash-Leigh’s communication barriers have been broken down by her use of the computer apps, Proloquo2Go and Pictello, on an iPad. These apps have encouraged her to have a voice and develops social skills, so she can engage with family, friends, and members of the public.
Proloquo2Go uses a mixture of colour-coded words and pictures to make up sentences, which enables Gleeson to express her likes/dislikes, and emotions/feelings, as well as make requests.
Pictello, provides the perfect tool for visual storytelling, as it uses photos, videos, and some text, which can be read aloud by Speech to Text voice, or one’s own recorded audio.
“Communication is a basic human right,” added Mrs Herbert. “It is a crucial skill as it enables people to participate in the social, educational, economic, and sporting aspects of our community.”
“Many Australians with communication disability cannot maximise educational, health, and social outcomes, without the intervention of a speech pathologist.”
“These people can use a range of ways, including word-based or picture-based communication boards/books, sign and gesture, and spelling to communicate with others.”
Assertive technology, such as electronic communication and speech generating devices, voice amplification, and computer access aids (including eye-gaze mouse control and head tracking devices) allow people with communication difficulties to communicate with others.
Children and the elderly make up most people with communication disability, and children are more likely to have profound/severe communication disability than older people.
One in seven people with communication disability need formal assistance with communication.
The Speech Pathology Association of Australia is the national peak body representing more than 12,000 speech pathologists.
The association supports and regulates the ethical, clinical, and professional standards of its members, as well as lobbying and advocating for access to services that benefit people with communication and swallowing difficulties.
Currently, Mrs Herbert has limited availability for appointments, however she can be contacted on 0419 159 776 by anyone with concerns.For more information about Speech Pathology Week, please visit www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/week.
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