Speech Therapy

We believe in the power of combined Speech and Occupational Therapy. Our integrated services combine the expertise of occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists to address a spectrum of challenges faced by children. From fine and gross motor skills to speech and language development, our team specialises in providing comprehensive, personalised care. Discover the transformative impact of our Paediatric Occupational and Speech Therapy services as we work collaboratively to enhance your child’s physical, cognitive, and communicative abilities.

How Can a Speech Pathologist Help?

The earlier that issues with a child’s communication and learning ability development are identified, the better their chances of overcoming them.

The Speech Pathology team at Happy Dots supports children, families and educational professionals through a holistic approach through screening, assessment and collaborative interventions at our clinic, in the home, online or at school.

As part of our holistic approach to speech therapy, we proactively support and educate parents, children and professionals through a number of fun and exciting ways.

Speech pathologists at Happy Dots can offer the following individual services; initial consultation, comprehensive language, speech and/or literacy assessments and ongoing intervention sessions.

We can help in the following areas:

Articulation is the way in which we produce speech sounds using our tongue, lips, teeth, jaw and vocal folds. Children learn to produce speech sounds as they grow, and different sounds are expected to develop at different ages. It is normal for young children to make speech errors as their language develops; however if they are continuing to make mistakes with a particular sound or group of sounds past the expected age, then it is likely that they have a speech sound delay.

Speech sound delays may include articulation errors (difficulties with making the particular sound) or phonological process errors (difficulties with sound patterns). Speech sound delays may be due to a number of factors including hearing, a history of ear infections, family history or a child may have incorrectly learnt the rules of speech sound production or how to produce a particular sound. If your child is difficult to understand whilst other children their age are speaking clearly, they may have a speech sound delay.

If you have any concerns, we can help by assessing your child to identify the cause, and plan intervention with your child and family. Intervention may include regular appointments and activities for you to do with your child at home. With appropriate speech therapy, many children with articulation or phonological concerns experience significant improvement in their speech.

Language refers to the way in which we understand and use words to share ideas, feelings, desires, thoughts and information.  Language is made up of several components including:

  • The meaning of words
  • The inclusion of grammar to create meaning
  • How we join words together to create sentences
  • How we use and select language to suit a situation

Children can experience difficulties in one or more area of communication, such as receptive or expressive language, speech sounds and social communication.

Receptive language is a child’s ability to understand and process spoken or written language. Children develop their receptive language skills as they grow older. Signs that a child may be experiencing difficulties with their receptive language vary with age, but may include:

  • Difficulties with following directions
  • Difficulties with answering questions
  • Difficulties with understanding long or complex sentences.
  • Difficulties with the meaning of words and understanding figurative language such as similes, metaphors, humour and sarcasm
  • Repeating back what is said to them
  • They may appear to ignore or not listen to you
  • They may not keep up with classmates, either with school-work or socially
  • They may have behavioural problems, be acting up in class or experience frustration.
  • They may be easily distracted or drift off when listening to speech or stories.
  • They may appear to be forgetful. For example, they only complete part of an instruction or remember part of a shopping list.

Expressive language is a child’s ability to express themselves and share meaning, generally through speaking or writing. It can also include alternative forms of communication such as signing, alternative and augmentative (AAC) communication in the form of communication supports/aids. As children grow, they learn to join words to create sentences, using correct word order, vocabulary and grammar. It is different to speech sound difficulties, as expressive language is how your child shares meaning and expresses themselves, not the way in which they pronounce sounds or words.

Signs that a child may be experiencing difficulties with their expressive language vary with age, but may include:

  • Poor sentence or grammatical structure
  • Limited content in their speech
  • Limited vocabulary
  • Confused meaning and grammar
  • They generally use short, simple sentences.
  • Difficulties with expressing their message and coming to the point
  • Difficulties with starting or participating in conversations.
  • Difficulties with recalling or retelling information.
  • Difficulties with completing oral and written narratives and/or assignments.
  • They may have trouble finding the right words
  • Unfamiliar people find it difficult to understand them

If you have any concerns, we can help by assessing your child to identify if they are experiencing difficulties with their receptive and/or expressive language. A formal language assessment identifies specific areas of development and strengths that your child may have, so that intervention may be planned with your child and family. Some children benefit from one-to-one therapy to develop and expand specific language skills, and sessions may be provided at our clinic, in the home or at school. School-based language intervention is useful to help your child develop and use skills and strategies in their learning environment, so that participation and engagement may be maximised.

Literacy is your ability to read, write and spell. You start to learn language as a baby. You learn how to say sounds and put them together to make words. You learn to use words to tell people what you think and how you feel. These early speech and language skills help you learn to read, write and spell. Reading is the ability to understand meaning from written words, and spelling is the ability to write letters to create words that express meaning.

Difficulties with reading, writing and spelling can impact your child’s experience at school, their learning, participation, academic success, self-esteem and confidence. Some signs that a child may be experiencing difficulties with their reading, writing and spelling include:

  • Mispronunciation of letters or words
  • Confuses or has difficulty distinguishing similar sounds
  • Not understanding or remembering what they have read
  • Guessing a word based on its shape or the first letter
  • Skipping words when reading.
  • Forgetting how to spell familiar words
  • They find writing to be slow and tiring
  • They dislike reading and writing, and may try to avoid it.

We support children who experience difficulties with reading, writing and spelling, with assessment and intervention to support the development of literacy skills. We are also able to work with your child’s teacher to make it easier for them to learn in school. Unfortunately reading difficulties, do not tend to go away; children need to be taught skills and strategies so that they can successfully decode and understand information they are reading.

Reading, writing and spelling can be hard, but we are available to help.

Functional communication refers to how an individual expresses their needs, wants, feelings and preferences, in a way that others can understand. Some of these messages may include “I want that”, “I am hurt”, “I need to use the bathroom” or “No, I don’t want to”.

For most children, functional communication begins to emerge in the first year of life with gestures, followed by spoken words and later, simple sentences. However, for children with speech and language delays and/or additional needs, this may happen much later. Children with significant language impairments may be developing their functional communication when they are older, in a way that can be understood by a range of communication partners. Functional communication varies in its expression and may include gestures, verbalisations, signs, pictures, words, communication devices and so forth. These communication supports are generally referred to as Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) aids. Teaching functional communication skills is essential so that an individual can meet their basics needs and wants. When children and adults can functionally communicate, they are ready to learn choice making and may increase their independence and autonomy.

At Happy Dots, we recognise that all children are individuals and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not result in successful functional communication, where one’s needs are met. Our Speech Pathologists work closely with families and your child to develop a profile of their communication needs, strengths and preferences, so that an individualised, multi-modal communication system may be developed. We also collaborate with your child’s network to meaningfully and consistently support the teaching and use of functional communication within routines and across environments. Our Speech Pathologists offer a professional and confidential telehealth service, using technology that enables you to access services wherever your location in Australia.

Social communication is the use of language in social contexts. It includes social interaction, social understanding, language processing and the rules that we follow when we talk, known as pragmatics. There are rules about when and how you should talk to people. For example, we learn how to let someone know when we want to change the topic, we know how to talk to our friends versus our teachers, and we use facial expressions or gestures to share how we feel. Knowing and using these rules makes it easier to communicate.

Social communication includes three major skills:

  • Using language for different reasons (e.g. requesting… “I want a cookie please”)
  • Adjusting language for the listener or situation (e.g. talking differently in a classroom than on a playground)
  • Following rules for conversations and storytelling (e.g. taking turns).


Children naturally break some of these social communication rules as they learn and develop their language and communication skills. However, some children can have difficulty identifying and understanding these rules, resulting in them finding it hard to talk to others and make friends. Social communication difficulties may occur in combination with some other areas, such as speech, language and/or learning difficulties.

We help children with social communication problems. We can screen or assess your child’s speech and language skills and help your child learn how to use language with different people and in different situations.

If you have any concerns, we can help by screening or assessing your child’s speech and language skills, and support them to learn how to use effectively use language with different people, to suit different purposes and situations. We provide intervention in the clinic, at home or at your child’s school so that they may learn and practice skills and strategies in their everyday environments. We also run social skills groups where children can meaningful and effectively develop their social communication skills, with their same-age peers.

Fluency refers to the smoothness with which sounds, syllables, words and phrases are joined together during speech. A fluency disorder is the interruption of the smoothness of speech. It is commonly referred to as ‘stuttering’. Characteristics commonly displayed in stuttering are:

  • repeating sounds and syllables, such as “I I I I I can do it”;
  • prolonged sounds, such as “where is my sssssister?”;
  • blocking of sounds, where a child tries to say a sound and nothing comes out;
  • broken words, such as “mon…key”.


Children may develop non verbal behaviours, such as head movements and blinking, which are associated with their stutter. Fluency disorders may also involve the interruption of the normal rhythm of speech.

If you are concerned about your child’s fluency, a speech pathologist is a support. A speech pathologist is trained to assess your child’s speech and recommend any assistance or therapy that may be required. Our Speech Pathologists are ready to assist your child.

Other Services

Initial Assessments

An initial assessment is booked for 90 minutes where a series of specifically chosen standardised and non-standardised tests are carried out on your child.

Meet & Greet Session

Our meet & greet sessions are designed for those families who may not be sure on whether or not OT will be best suited to them.

Review Assessment

We feel that it is important to conduct review assessments for children who have participated in therapy on an ongoing basis.

Our Clinics


Raymond Terrace