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Speech Pathologist (Transcript)

As a Speech Pathologist, I work with children with vision impairment to develop their expressive and receptive language skills. So what a child says and also what a child understands. (Voice-over: “Hana Speech Pathologist”). I’m also involved in the assessment and treatment of speech impairments, voice disorders, fluency disorders such as stuttering and also swallowing difficulties.

What is important when working with a child with vision impairment?

I think a lot of the way we learn language as a sighted person is through sights, so for example I might name the flowers as flowers but if a child has no vision or low vision they may not necessarily link the meaning to the word. So sometimes it’s difficult for them to actually acquire language or use language meaningfully or in functional ways. Also, I guess us to do with social skills a lot of the way we interact with people for we may not pick up on body language so a child may not be able to see even simple natural gestures such as waving hello and goodbye. So they may not pick up on those sort of cues that they’re actually someone is communicating to them. We just implicitly learn those social cues social cues so that can be quite difficult for a child with vision impairment to actually pick up on all those things that are, that are going on around them.

What helps you in your work with children families and schools?

Definitely a good relationship with the child and the family I think that’s first and foremost the most important thing if you don’t have that rapport with the child or the family, it can be really difficult to set goals and also help the child to achieve those goals.

Also the support of my lovely team members who I work with here at VisAbility. We all work really closely together to kind of achieve the best outcomes for the child.

What does inclusion mean, and what does it look like when it’s working well?

I think inclusion to me means that a child is able to participate in all activities of daily living, all activities in the classroom or whatever environment they may be in. I think it works really well when everyone who’s involved in that child’s life whether they be the parent, a carer, a teacher, a therapist are all working together to help them to be able to be included whatever the activity is.

Do children with visual impairment often have language or speech problems?

It is quite common for children- we would often expect children with a vision impairment to be delayed or slightly delayed in their language development. In terms of speech it can be because a child may not pick up on the way we produce sounds or words so when we’re modelling something to them they may not necessarily be able to pick up how to actually produce a sound.

So they may be delayed in their acquisition of actual speech sounds as well. So sometimes children with vision impairment may require a lot of explicit verbal instruction of how to actually place that their articulator is to produce sounds. So whether a child has a vision impairment or not I would always recommend that it’s that early language stimulation is really important so spending as much time as you can modeling language with your child, sharing books together, talking about what’s going on in in the environment is really important and can really help them develop both their expressive and their receptive language skills.

VisAbility, Website: www.visability.com.au

Phone: 1800 VISION