We can all help this Speech Pathology Week

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We can all help: Speech Pathology Week is on from August 25 to 31. Speech Pathology Australia says we can all do more to improve the lives of people who have a communication impairment. Photo: Shutterstock.

We can all help: Speech Pathology Week is on from August 25 to 31. Speech Pathology Australia says we can all do more to improve the lives of people who have a communication impairment. Photo: Shutterstock.

On from August 25 to 31, Speech Pathology Week is being promoted nationally by the association called Speech Pathology Australia.

For 2019 the theme is:

  • Communicating with Confidence

Speech pathologists help more than 1.2 million Australians who have a communication disability of this type.

The week promotes the scale of this work, and the premise that communication is a basic human need.

Belinda Hill is Speech Pathology Australia's acting national president. "Communication disabilities are commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed, often because they are invisible, unseen and out of sight," Belinda said in a statement.

"It's not immediately clear speech pathology is an option when someone has difficulty comprehending information or getting their message across. This can be incredibly frustrating for the person who is struggling to understand verbal information or communicate their message."

A communication disability can have an impact on various aspects of a person's life, including relationships, employment, education and social inclusion.

"We take for granted the everyday activities that other people just simply cannot do. Whether it's ordering a coffee at the local café, maintaining friendships, getting a job or navigating public transport."

In terms of treatment, speech pathologists help people of all ages. They study, diagnose and treat communication disability, including difficulties with speech, language, social skills, reading, writing, stuttering and voice.

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The wider community can also do simple things to help.

Referring to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Speech Pathology Australia pointed out that 38 percent of people with a communication disability participate in the workforce compared to 80 percent of those without. Worse still, almost half of people with a communication disability report a limitation to self-care.

"It's clear more needs to be done to support people with communication disabilities. Just as ramps have become more embedded in good design for those with physical disabilities, we must consider how to do the same for communication," said Belinda. "Everyone can take action - and it starts with being more aware and empathetic."

Some tips the association offered include:

  • Rephrasing something in simple language
  • Giving the person extra time to respond
  • Using pictures, writing, or using sign and gesture or symbols if there is a breakdown

Organisations can also include clear signage, offer other formats like text, and train staff to be more aware of people with communication impairments.