Speech pathologists urge Australians to ‘tell their story’ (source)
Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) estimates that more than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating or being understood, a statistic speech pathologists hope to change through a national story-telling campaign.
Launched at the beginning of Speech Pathology Week, the ‘Great Australian Communication Story’ project encourages people around the country to ‘tell their story’ and connect with their community.
SPA National President Christine Stone said many Australians struggle to communicate effectively enough to interact with their friends and families, work and participate in social events.
“Even though we estimate more than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating, we know that number is much, much higher.”
“Difficulties can be present at any age, from newborn babies who can’t feed properly, to a preschool child who has difficulty making speech sounds, a primary school child who has autism, a teenageer who stutters, a young adult who has had a stroke, a teacher whose voice is strained, a retired person with Parkinson’s disease who has difficulty coordinating their speech movements – right up to an older person living with dementia.”
“During Speech Pathology Week, we want people to share their stories, and to know that they are not alone,” Ms Stone said.
The ‘Great Australian Communication Story‘ aims to take a snapshot of the stories and experience of people living and working with communication impairment in Australia in 2012.
The project asks members of the public to fill in speech bubble templates which will be compiled into an e-book, to be released in September this year.
“Communication is about sharing stories and information. Just because someone communicates differently from you doesn’t mean that their story isn’t worth hearing,” Ms Stone said.
“We hope that by sharing their stories, it may encourage people to visit a speech pathologist to help understand and improve their communication.”
Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulty with speech, language, swallowing, fluency (stuttering) and voice. They work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, dementia and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language.
The negative impacts of communication difficulties are well documented and include a higher risk of literacy problems, lower academic acheivement, low self esteem and behavioural problems, particularly in children and young people.
Did you know:
• At two years of age 20% of Australian children have speech and language delay while
50% of this group will have persisting language delay at four years. A further 10-15% of children
not identified at two years will be later identified at four years with a speech and/or language
• One quarter (25%) of all preschool children have difficulty speaking or making speech
sounds. Fewer than half receive the specialist treatment they require.
• 20-25% of children have difficulty understanding and using language upon entry to school.
• 75% of children with autism, 69% of children with Down syndrome and 55% of children
with cerebral palsy demonstrate communication impairment.
• 14% of Australian children at 15 years do not have baseline literacy skills, and up to 27%
of Year 3 children in some states demonstrate a reading impairment.
• Significant gaps in literacy levels exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children,
with the gap widening over time and increasing in remote and isolated areas.
• Upwards of 70% of Indigenous children in remote communities suffer from chronic Otitis
Media, a serious middle ear disease that can cause permanent hearing loss and inhibit language
and literacy development.
• 25% of stroke victims have aphasia (acquired speech and language difficulties).
• More than 50% of Australians with dementia experience communication difficulties.
• 85% of those with Parkinson’s disease have voice, speech and/or swallowing disorders.
• 13,000 Australians use aids to assist them in communication.
• Around 20% of Australians over the age of 50, as many as one third of children with
cerebral palsy and one in 20 children with a traumatic brain injury experience difficulties swallowing
food and/or drink.
• One in seven users of government disability services (over five years of age) has little or no
Source: Speech Pathology Australia