What if I suspect my child has a disability?

Sometimes, a speech pathologist may be the first professional that your child sees when you suspect there is a problem. For many children, late talking maybe the first sign that their development is on a different path. If the therapists suspects that your child has a disability, they will be respectful and understanding in delivering this news and provide recommendations on next steps. Be reassured that there is a wealth of support in our community for children with disabilities and their families to help them live their best lives.

Your local doctor may refer you to a paediatrician as well as a team of allied health professionals (e.g. audiologist, psychologist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist) or other medical specialists. Most disabilities are typically diagnosed through formal assessments, medical tests, observations, questionnaires and discussions with the child and their family, together with findings of the allied health professionals, medical specialists and your child’s educators.

What disabilities are commonly associated with speech and language problems?


  • Autism
  • Global Developmental Delay
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Syndromes or chromosomal abnormalities (e.g. Down syndrome)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Acquired brain injury
  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Hypotonia (Low Muscle Tone)

Therapy Matters has therapists on our team with clinical interests and experience in all of these disabilities. We are proud to say that many of our team have dedicated their careers to the provision of speech pathology services for children with disabilities. Helping children have a say in life no matter what their challenges, finding a way to celebrate their strengths and support their families is what we do!

What is Autism?


Autism is a lifelong disability that impacts how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others, and experiences their environment. No two autistic people are the same – each person has their own way of seeing the world.

The characteristics of autism are widely varied. An autistic person might have strengths in attention to detail, technology skills, logic skills or memory and strong passionate interests. They may communicate honestly and directly. They may repeat words or phrases or use sounds, signs, gestures or pictures to communicate instead of spoken words. They may take extra time to understand what others have to say. They might use or respond to body language (e.g. eye contact) differently. They may experience discomfort in busy, complex social situations and be more comfortable socialising through technology. They might prefer to play alone or next to others more than with them. They might enjoy doing things in the same way or playing with toys in a unique way. They may be constantly aware of some sensations and they may feel overwhelmed if there are too many sensations at once.

Many of the challenges associated with autism arise when individuals are not understood or respected by others, when they are not supported to know and embrace their autistic identity or when they are not afforded opportunities to connect, see and learn from other autistic people in their community. When they are, they can become much more comfortable in a non-Autistic world.

Therapy Matters acknowledges that the language we use when talking about autism may be different depending upon a person’s perspective and preferences. Most autistic people now prefer identity-first language (e.g. autistic person) however some members of the autism and wider disability communities and their families still prefer person-first language (e.g. person with autism). We acknowledge and respect the preference of all individuals and families to determine the language used.

Furthermore, Therapy Matters is committed to delivering therapy approaches to autistic people that are intrinsically motivating and person-centred where the strengths of autistic people are acknowledged and fostered and intervention is dual-focussed to support both autistic people and non-autistic people to adapt to meet each other’s preferences in order to work together to understand different perspectives as part of an inclusive community. Therapy Matters is committed to embracing Neurodiversity Affirming Approaches in all aspects of our service.

How can speech pathologists help?


Speech pathologists work together with parents as well as health, allied health, education and medical professionals to specifically support the communication, feeding and social skills of children with disabilities.

Speech pathologists particularly focus on family-centred intervention where parent’s goals and priorities for their child are valued and intervention tailored to meet the needs of the child in their family and community. Intervention typically targets speech clarity, understanding of language, communication through words and AAC (e.g. signing and speech generating devices) and social communication.

Many of our speech pathologists have extensive experience using a range of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solutions to help children have a say if life if talking is difficult or unclear such as: Key Word Sign, PODD books, communication boards, speech generating devices and iPad apps such as Proloquo2go.

We have Licensed Key Word Sign Presenters who deliver regular KWSA Accredited Key Word Sign Basic Workshops.

Our speech pathologists use a range of speciality skills, therapy techniques and resources in the assessment and treatment of children with disabilities. We provide intervention individually, in pairs, in groups and in the community.

We also deliver a weekly service to the ACE program : a dedicated early intervention, Imagine Child Care Centre program for autistic children. We also like to support parent capacity building too, through our highly valued Hanen Parent Training Programs (e.g. It Takes Two to Talk, More than Words & Talkability). We are passionate about working collaboratively with your child’s multidisciplinary team.