Stuttering and its Challenges at School

Stuttering and its Challenges at School

With the school year just beginning it’s an important reminder that school is more than learning the curriculum. Children face social and emotional challenges, with new expectations and responsibilities.

For children with a communication disorder, the impact on learning and peer relationships can be greater.

“Children who stutter face unique challenges at school…”

Click on this link to read an article at, specific to the challenges of starting school with a stutter.

Our speech pathology and psychology clinic is located in Braddon, ACT, in Canberra’s CBD. Call us on 5117 4890 or email to get in touch.

In Positive Health, Canberra. Nel MacBean Speech Pathologist Canberra. Campbell MacBean Psychologist Canberra.

Local Landcare. Small Numbers, Big Heart.

Local Landcare. Small Numbers, Big Heart.


I live at the foot of Mt Gibraltar in Bowral NSW (height 863m). The remains of an open cut quarry are literally 200m from my house within the small bush reserve of the mount. Recently the Landcare group who look after the reserve paid for a stone wall to be built as a memorial.

It’s a striking and beautiful monument to the 100 years of operation of the Trachite quarry (1886 to 1986). The Trachite stone from this quarry may be familiar to you in buildings in Sydney such as the QVB and Commonwealth Bank buildings on George St, and the National Library building in Canberra.

The Landcare group regularly cleans up the undergrowth and cuts down non native pine trees to allow regeneration of the native temperate rainforest trees. This is a big job for the small number of volunteers but they do it out of love and pride in the local environment. Landcare groups around Australia take care of local environments, clean up creeks and prevent erosion.

A positive thing to do for themselves, their communities and their environment! No wonder we say the heart swells with pride.

In Positive Health, Canberra. Nel MacBean Speech Pathologist Canberra. Campbell MacBean Psychologist Canberra.

Speech Pathology Week 2015

Speech Pathology Week 2015

Monday 24 August

WELCOME to Speech Pathology Week, 2015 – from 23 – 29 August.

This year’s theme is #Talkwithme and Positive Speech supports Speech Pathology Week to raise awareness of the more than 1.1 million people in Australia who have difficulty communicating.

THANKS Southern Highland News!

Today our local newspaper, Southern Highland News, has published a Media Release to contribute to raising awareness about Speech Pathology Week 2015. Buy the paper and read the News article on Page 2.


A recent Senate Inquiry highlighted that communication disorders are more prevalent or on-par with the number of people with diabetes and three times the number of those with dementia. Both of these conditions are national health priorities and attract significant attention and resourcing. Communication disorders, however, are largely invisible.

This Speech Pathology Week, give a voice to those with a communication disorder and help end their silence #SPweek #Talkwithme.


Tuesday 25 August


Our office has been decked out for Speech Pathology Week, which started on Sunday, 23 August.

Here are some of the goodies clients will be receiving this week – magic pens, stickers and fridge magnets. We look forward to seeing all clients this week, and anyone who’d like to pop in to say hello!


Communication disorders contribute to poor educational outcomes, reduced employment opportunities and an increased likelihood of social, emotional and mental health issues.

This Speech Pathology Week, give a voice to those with a communication disorder and help end their silence #SPweek #Talkwithme.

Wednesday 26 August


Michelle, practice manager at Teeth@Mittagong, Skip, barista extraordinaire at Brewster’s Café and Campbell, psychologist at Positive Mind, have all gotten behind Speech Pathology Week 2015. They know Communication is a Basic Human Right.


Three in every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss, which without intervention can affect their speech, language and literacy.

This Speech Pathology Week, give a voice to those with a communication disorder and help end their silence #SPweek #Talkwithme.

Thursday 27 August

OUR OFFICE MANAGER of the day…. Bunny Rabbit MOO. 

While she doesn’t get that much work done, preferring to nap, hop and nibble on hay, Moo supports Speech Pathology Week. She may not have a voice, but she can communicate her needs and wants very well!


Around 13,000 Australians use electronic communication aids to get their message across, while 20 per cent of four year olds have difficulty understanding or using language.

This Speech Pathology Week, give a voice to those with a communication disorder and help end their silence #SPweek #Talkwithme.

Friday 28 August


What a great question!

Speech pathologists are specialists in all forms of communication. We work with people to maximise their ability to communicate in a way that best meets their needs and abilities.

Speech pathologists work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech, language and communication.

Speech pathologists work in a wide range of settings – schools, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, kindergartens, rehabilitation centres, community health centres, private practice and mental health services.

Pick up a brochure or two in our clinic.


Speech disorders don’t just affect the young. At least 30 per cent of people post-stroke suffer loss of language, with 85 per cent of those with Parkinson’s disease having voice, speech and/or swallowing difficulties

This Speech Pathology Week, give a voice to those with a communication disorder and help end their silence #SPweek #Talkwithme.

Saturday 29 August


We’ve had a great week of awareness raising. We hope you’ve enjoyed the week’s posts, and have a greater understanding of our country’s communication needs.

Want to know more?

Check out the national peak body that represents more than 6500 speech pathologists in Australia – Speech Pathology Australia

Speech Pathology Australia has developed a suite of fact sheets on important topics related to speech pathology. Click here to access these.

Happy Speech Pathology Week 2015!


Not only is communication a basic human right, it is the essence of what makes us human.

Did you miss our previous Thought of the Week?

Did you miss our previous Thought of the Week?

This is an ongoing list of our Thoughts of the Weeks gone by…

21 December 2016 Caring for your Christmas Voice

Ready to sing your favourite Christmas carol this year? “Jingle Bells”? “Silent Night”? Or my personal favourite, “Good King Wenceslas”? To do so, those vocal folds need to be tip, top healthy.

The Australian Dysphonia Network is a useful resource for people affected by voice disorders…. and this year’s Christmas message is to take care of yourself.

Amongst their 10 Top Christmas Survival Tips, my favourite has to be wearing headphones at the office to avoid unnecessary chit chat! This could also be a useful trick at home, perhaps even on Christmas Day!

Click on the link on our Facebook page to be taken to their list.

6 December 2016 Technology and Reading

Technology means teenagers and young adults are reading much more than they ever did, thanks to smartphones, tablets, and iEverything. But they are reading words of a lesser quality, according to writer and journalist Dave Denby.

We need to all encourage teenagers and young adults to read, and read widely. A British study of more than 750,000 young people revealed that boys took less time to process written words, and only read the bits that were easy.

Time Magazine has put together a list of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time, which may be a good start for the summer holidays.

Links to all of the above information is available on our Facebook site.

23 November 2016 Accent Change

To change, or not to change, an accent. That is the question.

“Accents are important messengers of who we are, so rejection of a person’s accent has the effect of rejection of the whole person.”

However, a foreign-sounding accent can get in the way of finding a job, progressing in the workplace and building a strong client base.

This article expresses the difficulties experienced by people whose accents are not the same as that of the greater Australian society in which they live.

“…in fact people who work and live in a second language often suffer [the stress of doubting their own intelligence and intellectual capabilities] and it may cause identity crises, simply because an accent is a ‘variation in language to construct ourselves as social beings, to signal who we are, and who we are not and cannot be’.”

An interesting read. You can find the link on our Facebook page.

8 November 2016 Books of the Year

Summer holidays are just around the corner; Christmas is mere weeks away.

What about a book in their stocking this year? Don’t let the end of the school year stop them reading…

The Children’s Book Council of Australia has revealed the 2016 winners. Check it out here for a complete list.

Dymock’s have also created a list of their best-selling 51 children’s books, as voted by their readers. This list can be found here

And Speech Pathology Australia has revealed its winning books for 2016.  To be taken to the winning entries and short list, click here

25 October 2016 Reading

I’m sure there are so many ways in which train travel could be improved, but this idea from the French is sure to be near the top of the list.

Short story vending machines, which dispense free short stories printed on paper of 1, 3 or 5 minutes in length, are being rolled out across train stations in France!

“Our ambition is to see distributors pop up everywhere to encourage reading…..” says Director Christophe Sibieude.

Now, there’s an idea for Australia.

Check out the article at on our Facebook page.

13 September 2016 Literacy

A large percentage of the clients that I see come to me for literacy issues. Literacy is about reading and spelling skills, and these skills underpin success at school, in the workplace, and in life in general.

My intervention for literacy is based on the foundations of THRASS – the acronym for an evidence-based teacher training course – Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills – in which I am trained.

This intervention begins with teaching the correct names of the letters, followed by the Alphabetic Principle:

“The acquisition of reading and spelling in English is dependent on the learner’s understanding of the Alphabetic Principle – the idea that there are systematic and predictable relationships between letter patterns and spoken sounds. These relationships must be explicitly taught and practised – this is phonics.” THRASS (

Literacy is an issue in Australia. Many Australians, children and adults alike, have poor literacy skills.

If you are interested in learning more about how people with low literacy skills cope with life and function within the demands of a literate world, tune in to Insight on SBS, available at SBS On Demand. Jenny Brockie presents a very interesting discussion on the issue:

“Why do so many Australians have poor literacy? Around 44 per cent of adult Australians have literacy levels that make everyday tasks – like filling out a form or reading a prescription – very difficult. Our numeracy levels are worse. Insight speaks to a number of Australians from all ages and backgrounds who have lived a life with low literacy in a world that assumes that they don’t exist. Hosted by award-winning journalist Jenny Brockie.”

2 August 2016 Teachers and voice disorders

Are you a teacher?

Teachers, and especially female teachers between 40 and 55 years of age, are more than twice as likely to develop a voice disorder than other adults in the community. 

When you talk, your vocal folds collide to create vibration and produce sound, and a teacher is said to have about a million vocal fold collisions in a day! Add to that the need to raise your voice above a rowdy classroom bunch of kids, and that’s when the problems begin.

Protect your voice –  Rest your voice through the day. Avoid shouting. Drink lots of water. Find other means of attracting your students’ attention.

Like some more tips? Click on the link about overcoming teacher voice problems on our Facebook page.

13 July 2016 What books should my child read?

What books should my child read?

I’m often asked this question. The answer?

Books that he enjoys. Books that create pleasure. Books that she can’t wait to get home to.

I’m sure you know the feeling of a good book, that feeling of ‘flow’ where time seems to stand still, and you are transported to a parallel time, thanks to a book you can’t put down. This is the very essence of reading: engagement, interest and enjoyment. A book that is a joy to read is a wonderful thing.

As Misty Adoniou, Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra,  explains, “Children learn to read by reading a book that is a little beyond what they can already read. The gap between what they can read and what they could read is reduced when the child is highly motivated by the content of the book, has existing background knowledge about that content [and] is receiving good instruction from a teacher.”

See what else she has to say on our Facebook page, via a link to the

22 June 2016 Phonics – the building blocks of reading and spelling

Today’s Quiz: What is the best method for learning to read and spell?

a) Phonics (focusing on letter-sound relationships)

b) Learning whole words

If you answered a), you would be correct.

And there is evidence behind it, thanks to Stanford University in the US, and published in Science Daily. Researchers there have discovered that the brain responds to different types of reading instruction, and that reading instruction provided by the teaching of phonics (letter-sound relationships) increases activity in the area of a child’s brain best wired for reading.

“Words learned through the letter-sound instruction elicited neural activity biased toward the left side of the brain, which encompasses visual and language regions. In contrast, words learned via whole-word association showed activity biased toward right hemisphere processing.”

The link is on our Facebook page, if you’d like to read more!

14 June 2016 More on mouth vs nasal breathing….

Do you breathe through your nose or your mouth?

What about your children?

I’ve talked about mouth breathing before, but thought it was time for a little refresher, backed up by some useful evidence from a clinical journal in the USA called General Dentistry. I’ll just give you a few dot points.

Did you know that mouth breathing in children can lead to:

  • abnormal facial and dental development, such as long, narrow faces
  • gummy smiles
  • gingivitis
  • crooked teeth
  • poor sleeping patterns
  • poor academic performance
  • poor behaviour at school (often misdiagnosed as ADHD)
  • sleep apnoea
  • and a whole range of other (and future) medical issues?

As the title of the article on our Facebook page suggests – mouth breathing can cause major health problems!

Interested? Click on the link to Science Daily on our Facebook page.

Questions? Give me a call…

31 May 2016 Voice Disorders & Therapy

How do you use your voice? Do you sing? Do you teach? Do you use your voice professionally?

Our voice expresses our emotions; it tells others a great deal about our personality and it offers a window to our physical and emotional health. A teacher’s voice can even have an effect on children’s language processing and test performance, such that a dysphonic (hoarse) voice is reported to impede learning (Rogerson & Dodd, 2005; Lyberg Ahlander et al., 2014).

If you can identify with a hoarse, husky, croaky or strained voice, if it is hard for you to project your voice or if you have a feeling that it is an effort to use it, or if you need to cough or clear your throat during or after talking, you may need voice correction.

Voice problems are not uncommon. Up to 9% of children and 6% of adults can present with a voice disorder at some time in their lives, with women more likely than men to need help.

That’s what speech pathologists are for!

World Voice Day was recently held on 16th April, 2016.

Our Facebook page provides a link to the World Voice Day site to learn about Dysphonia (vocal hoarsness) and how to seek treatment. There is also other interesting information about the human voice on the site. Happy reading!

17  May  2016  Read to your baby!

Winter’s almost here. Well almost. Autumn in the Southern Highlands has been unseasonably warm. I could do with a lovely cold snap.

Why? An excuse to curl up on the couch in front of the fire with a book and a nice cup of tea!

This week’s theme is once again about reading.

A new study from the University of Iowa in the US, published in Science Daily has found that “babies made more speech-like sounds during reading than when playing with puppets or toys”, and mothers, in turn, are more responsive to these particular sounds when reading to their babies, which encourages positive language development outcomes for the child.

Interested in reading more? Click on the link on our Facebook page.


29  April  2016  Primary Progressive Aphasia in Adults

A lovely speech pathologist colleague of mine works at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in the United States. She posted an article on her private Facebook page, and I thought I would share it with you.

It’s about Primary Progressive Aphasia – an adult language disease, where a person’s mental faculties remain untouched, but those diagnosed lose their ability to communicate. It’s degenerative (it gets worse over time) and, while there is currently no known cure, a lot of research is going on behind the scenes.

“It can be a truly devastating condition,” says Joseph Duffy from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. “It sucks our humanity, or what makes us uniquely human, from us.”

If you are interested in reading the article, click on the link on our Facebook page. It is a fascinating read.

5  April  2016  It is really important to chew!

It’s nice to have an excuse to eat chocolate. I certainly indulged this Easter!

And today, back at work and back to normal eating!

But what is normal eating?

Our western diet has become more soft, processed and nutrient-poor over the years, resulting in a plethora of medical problems. Obesity, diabetes, to name just two.

But, did you know, that this soft, modern diet can “promote abnormal development of the skull and face” and cause structural dental problems….

It’s really important to chew! As the attached article found in Darwinian Medicine explains, “In the same way that you won’t develop healthy and strong limbs if you’re not adequately stressing them through walking running and other physical activities during childhood, your jaws won’t grow correctly if you don’t stress them sufficiently from chewing.”

What’s more, while malocclusion (crooked teeth) and impacted wisdom teeth were “virtually unheard of” prior to the Agricultural Revolution (when we were hunter gatherers), in modern society today, “these conditions are extremely common.”

The main message? Include more hard, chewy foods into your and your children’s diets.

Have a bit of time up your sleeve? Click on the link on our Facebook page to read the article at Darwinian Medicine.

29  March  2016  More benefits to Bilingualism

Would you like your child or children to have:

  • better problem solving skills;
  • superior social abilities;
  • an ability to consider others’ perspectives; and,
  • greater interpersonal understanding?

Expose them to more than one language at home! Research is emerging that simply being raised in a home environment in which multiple languages are experienced can have the same cognitive benefits as growing up in a bilingual or multilingual family. Cognitive benefits include improved executive function, such as problem solving and dealing with mentally challenging tasks.

 “This is potentially good news for parents who are not bilingual themselves, yet who want their children to enjoy some of the benefits of multilingualism.”

Sure is.

Check out the research article from The New York Times on our Facebook page.

22  March  2016  Sleep Disordered Breathing in Children & Behavioural Links

A study reported in 2012 by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in the USA has found a link between children who have sleep disordered breathing (snoring, mouth-breathing, sleep apnoea) and behavioural and socio-emotional difficulties, including hyperactivity and forming peer relationships.

The evidence suggests that children with sleep disordered breathing are 40 – 100% more likely to develop neurobehavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, by the age of 7, compared with children who do not have breathing problems.

If you suspect your child is demonstrating symptoms of sleep disordered breathing, do make an appointment with your GP or paediatrician for further advice.

Click on the link on our Facebook page to read more.

15  March  2016  CHILD SPEECH – ditch the dummy!

I’ve never been a fan of dummies or pacifiers for young children. The tongue, resting in the proper position at the top of the oral cavity (with the tongue tip touching the alveolar ridge at the top, just behind the front teeth), is the muscle that forms the hard palate in babies and children. If the tongue is hindered from doing this by a child sucking a dummy or thumb or finger, the tongue is forced to the bottom of the mouth, and the hard palate is not able to be optimally formed. And this can be the start of life-long problems, from crooked teeth, to mouth breathing, to allergies, to postural issues…..

Recently, new research has come to light that if you stop a baby from moving their tongue by prolonged bottle or dummy use (or even a thumb or finger or teething toy), it may “impede their ability to distinguish between speech sounds”. They hear a sound and see a face, and babies like to mirror what they see and hear, but if the tongue is caught up around a dummy or bottle teat, they can’t move it about, and this may mean future problems for speech. This is the first time scientists have discovered a link between infants’ oral-motor movements and their perception of auditory speech.

Interested in knowing more? Click on the link on our Facebook page.

26  February  2016  SNORING

Who snores in your family? Do you? Does your partner? It makes me tired just thinking about it.

According to an article in Science Daily, snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), but not everyone who snores has OSA. In effect, 15 – 54% of the general population snores. A wide range, I know. Lots of sleepless nights.

There have been so many treatments for snoring, ranging from dental appliances and surgery to weight loss. But the perfect treatment has not as yet been found.

Or has it?

This article in the Science Daily reports on recent research that suggests oropharyngeal exercises (exercises of the tongue, lips, and facial muscles) “significantly reduced the frequency of snoring by 36 percent and total power of snoring by 59 percent”. Could a better night’s sleep be only a few exercises away?

Check out the article on the Positive Speech Facebook page for more information. It has basic Orofacial Myofunctional exercises that can get you started, but if you really want to make a difference, consider making an appointment to see me.

As an Orofacial Myologist, I can help.

10  February  2016  CHILD FLUENCY – The Lidcombe Program

The Lidcombe Program, a program designed for young children who stutter, is named after the Sydney suburb. Lidcombe houses the Cumberland Campus of the University of Sydney where the Australian Stuttering Research Centre (ASRC) is located.

Preschool children who stutter and who participate in the Lidcombe Program have a 7 – 8 times better chance of recovery, than their same-aged peers who do not.

Recently, the ASRC launched a website dedicated to the Lidcombe Program, providing information for parents, care-givers, speech pathologists, teachers and health professionals. It is worth a look.

Click on the link on our Facebook page for more information.

1  February  2016  The Difficulties of English

English is a hard language to learn. As a native speaker, did you ever wonder why? If you’re a non-native speaker, would you agree? It certainly depends on your language background.

One of the most difficult things about learning English is its spelling system – I’m sure you’re familiar with the spelling of potato:

If GH can stand for P as in Hiccough

If OUGH stands for O as in Dough

If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis

If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbour

If TTE stands for T as in Gazette

If EAU stands for O as in Plateau

Then the right way to spell POTATO should be: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU

But being polite is tricky, too – we tend to lengthen our questions to request something politely:

“Sorry to bother you, but would you mind passing the salt when you have a moment?”

For something interesting, check out the article from about the difficulties of English on our Facebook page.

27  January  2016  CHILD SPEECH – Ages and Stages

Is your child in preschool or in the early school years?

Ever wondered what speech sounds your child should be able to say?

“Even though children vary in their development of speech and language, there are certain ‘milestones’ that can be identified as a rough guide to normal development. Typically, these skills must be reached at certain ages before more complex skills can be learned.” Speech Pathology Australia (2013).

Check out Speech Pathology Australia’s “The Sounds of Speech: preschool and school-aged children – The Ages and stages of children’s speech development”. It’s just a click away…. on our Facebook site.

17 December  2015  Is your child COMMUNICATION READY for big school?

School is already out for many children this time of year (woohoo!), and for others, they’re nearly there.

Then all too soon the next year rolls around, and a new cohort of kindergarten children takes its first steps into ‘big school’. However, for many of these children (20%, in fact) their communication skills may not be quite ready.

So, how do you know if your child is ready? And, if he or she is not, what can you do about it?

Check out the article from Essential Kids for some great tips, located on our Facebook page.

10 December  2015  SLEEP & TECHNOLOGY in the BEDROOM

We are all tired this time of year. How are you feeling this afternoon? A nap would be nice, wouldn’t it?…….It’s hot, you can smell the summer holidays approaching, jingle bells are in the supermarket, the year’s finish line is just beyond reach…

And what’s on this year’s Santa-wish-list? If it involves anything to do with touch-screen technology, and you value your sleep (and/or the sleep of your nearest and dearest), you might want to read this week’s article from the on our Facebook page…

But if you are a bit tired, and you’d like the condensed version, here it is:

***Don’t use technology in the bedroom! Don’t charge technology in the bedroom! It will disrupt your sleep!***

Doesn’t matter how old or how young you are. Get rid of it!

So, sleep well tonight. That would be nice, wouldn’t it!?

1 December  2015   CHILD LANGUAGE – Literacy & Reading

I talk about reading a lot. Here are today’s facts:

  1. When you read to your children and read the same book over and over, “repeated reading of favourite books can boost vocabulary by up to 40%.”
  2. When you read to your children, “their brain areas supporting comprehension and mental imagery are highly engaged.”
  3. When you read to your children, “it helps with the development of reading skills, such as word recognition, when they start to learn to read.”

And it’s never too early to start.

Don’t believe me? Need more convincing?

Connect with Positive Speech on Facebook.

19 November  2015   CHILD LANGUAGE – Build maths skills through reading

I know that you know that it’s important parents read to their children. So important. If you are a parent reading this, I’m sure as hoping that you and your child read together regularly. Every day, fingers crossed.

But, did you know, that if you read books with a focus on maths – and I’m not talking text books here; I’m talking stories that happen to feature natural, but simple maths problems – that your child has the potential to improve in maths!

Does maths stress you out? You didn’t like it at school, and you’d much prefer stories and literacy to sums and long division? If parents are stressed about maths, research shows that the kids become stressed, too, and may develop a dislike for the subject. And the cycle of poor mathematical achievement begins. It’s a hard loop to get off.

By incorporating bedtime stories containing a maths focus into the reading routine, the evidence suggests parents’ anxieties around maths reduce, too. And the children improve in maths at school.


Check out our Facebook page for some really interesting info.

6 November  2015   CHILD LANGUAGE – Building Baby’s Language Skills

Is there a new baby in your family?

Now’s the time to communicate consciously with your baby to promote good language development for the years to come.

The secret?

Repeat, repeat, repeat!

According to researchers at the University of Maryland and Harvard University in the US, “Parents who repeat words more often to their infants have children with better language skills a year and a half later.”

The study revealed that “toddlers who had stronger language outcomes differed in two ways from their peers: their parents had repeated words more often, and they were more tuned in to the language as infants, and thus better able to process what was being said.”

It’s not just about talking more to your child. It isn’t about the number of words. It’s about being “more conscious of repeating words”. Quality is definitely better than quantity.

Information on the study can be found by visiting our Facebook page.

13 October  2015   The benefits of foreign language learning and bilingualism

I love language.

I love being able to communicate in languages other than English. I feel that speaking a foreign language has given me numerous benefits, including: the ability to speak to others in their language, the ability to understand the English language even better, the ability to travel and communicate in the language of a different people in the country of origin, the ability to experience how others who speak another language might think and view the world, the ability to read books and watch films in languages other than English, and the ability to forge a different personality, a freedom, an individuality, that I don’t think I have in my native tongue.

There are so many more advantages, of course.

Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald published a news story (connect with our Facebook page to read the story in full) in which research has shown that speaking another language in addition to English did neither positively nor adversely affect a child’s academic outcomes at school. This means, there were no advantages or disadvantages to “speaking multiple languages in terms of school readiness, literacy or numeracy.”

This may be true; however, there are certainly more personal advantages to foreign language learning and bilingualism. These are life-long skills, with far-reaching, positive personal benefits, irrespective of school learning needs.

Several of my friends have recently had children, and these children are being raised in a bilingual or multilingual family. Friends often ask me how to support their children in a bi- or multilingual environment. While I have ideas and tips on this theme, from my own personal experience and past studies in second language acquisition many, many years ago, The Hanen Centre has an interesting article, entitled “Bilingualism in Young Children: Separating Fact from Fiction”.

Connect with our Facebook page to be taken to the article at The Hanen Centre.

6 October  2015   How to know when your child needs to see a speech pathologist

How do you know if your child needs to see a speech pathologist?

Children develop at different rates, so sometimes it is difficult to tell.

Visit our Facebook page to read a short article in Mother and Baby Magazine. It’s brief, but it has some good advice.

As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s speech, do book him or her in for an assessment with a speech pathologist.

The evidence shows that “poor speech can affect a young child’s confidence and their literacy skills, so the earlier it’s addressed the better.”

31 August  2015   SPEECH PATHOLOGY WEEK, 2015

Communication is a basic human right.

Each year Speech Pathology Australia hosts Speech Pathology Week to make Australians more aware of those in our community who have a speech or swallowing difficulty.

In 2015, Speech Pathology Week is from 23-29 August.

In 2015, the theme for Speech Pathology Week is Talk with me.

Give a voice to those who have a communication or swallowing disorder and help raise awareness of communication and swallowing disorders in Australia.

Positive Speech supports Speech Pathology Week 2015. Connect to our Facebook page to learn more and find out what’s happening in our clinic during the month of August.

24 August  2015   SPELLING!

Anybody watching The Great Australian Spelling Bee? I’m loving it! It was hard when MasterChef finished for the year, but Spelling Bee is just as fabulous.

I wonder how many people watching Spelling Bee feel that little bit inadequate. Here are some very smart kids spelling words that many adults wouldn’t know.

The world, according to Misty Adoniou, Senior Lecturer in Language, Literacy and TESL at the University of Canberra, “is divided into three types of people. Those who can spell – and know it. Those who can’t spell – and are ashamed of it. Those who can’t spell – and pretend they don’t care.”

Which category do you fall into?

And, if you fall into the category where you don’t consider yourself a good speller, can you change?

Well, yes. It’s just about learning how words work. And for children, “when spelling is focused on meaning, and how words make their meaning, spelling improves and so does reading comprehension, writing and vocabulary across all subjects.”

Visit our Facebook page to read about what spelling bees can tell us about learning to spell – and what they get wrong at


15 August  2015   Orofacial Myology – Snoring in Children

Does your child snore?

Enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or both, can often be the culprit. These can sometimes block the airway, resulting in snoring, disrupted sleep for the family, and a tired child.

Sleepy children, like sleepy adults, just can’t function optimally. This can lead to poor behavioural, developmental and educational outcomes. And these can have life-long consequences.

Snoring is not a normal feature of sleeping children.

If your child does snore, schedule a visit to your GP. A clinical assessment by a paediatrician or ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat specialist) is also recommended.

Visit our Facebook page to read more about this condition.

30 July  2015   CHILD FLUENCY – the most evidenced-based treatment

Stuttering. It is a mystery. Researchers don’t yet know exactly why it happens. Yet it is common in childhood. It affects between 5-9% of people in their lifetime, and, following a recent study, even up to 11% of four-year-olds. Most pre-schoolers who stutter recover without intervention. But a certain percentage does not.

What researchers do know is that early intervention is important. As Mark Onslow, Professor of Speech Pathology and Director, Australian Stuttering Research Centre at the University of Sydney, explains, “It is vital that parents take their children to a speech pathologist for advice as soon as they notice that stuttering begins. This is because outcomes are much better if treatment is complete by the time a child starts formal schooling.”


“Because research has shown that children can be bullied during the school years because of their stuttering. Also, stuttering can interfere with children reaching their educational potential and their vocational potential later in life.”

Mark Onslow has written an informative article at You can access the article on our Facebook page.

23 July  2015  ADULT VOICE – voice tips for success at work
Want to be successful at work? Use these voice tips, provided by Caroline James at The Sydney Morning Herald:
  1. Smile when you speak
  2. Get some training
  3. Stamp out your ‘buts’
  4. Use the right tone
  5. Don’t speak too much – less is more
  6. Mirror your audience
  7. Use short, snappy sentences – don’t fall off the vocal cliff!
  8. Slow down
  9. Listen to your own voice – record yourself!
  10. Breathe…

“Your voice matters at work. It matters so much, it could make or break your career.”

Want to know more? Read the article at the smh. It’s on our Facebook page.

14 July  2015  ADULT SPEECH – intelligibility enhancement, accent modification and pronunciation change

What does your English, and therefore your accent, sound like to you? How do you think it sounds to your conversation partners?

Like it or not, we are judged by how we speak. “We don’t judge accents themselves,” writes Howard Manns, Lecturer in Linguistics at Monash University, “but rather the speakers of those accents and our perceptions of those speakers’ qualities.” Howard Manns goes on to say that, in Australia, “speakers of any number of non-standard or broad accents might have the potential to be marginalised”, and thus the potential to miss out on employment opportunities, or experience discrimination.

Howard Manns writes for Read his article, entitled “Posh accents, discrimination and employment in Australia” on our Facebook page.

3 July  2015  CHILD LANGUAGE – Behaviour and Communication


Does a child you know have a temper tantrum now and again? Bounce off the walls? Go into meltdown? Get angry when they try to tell you something? Stamp their foot, or worse?

I think they might be trying to tell you something……

As so adequately sums up, “…children have moments of frustration, excitement, or overstimulation when they can’t find the words to communicate and revert to inappropriate behaviours. This is the reason some students become extremely physical when upset. Acting out is the only form of communication they can access in that moment.”
So true.

24 June  2015  CHILD LANGUAGE – Maths and Reading

Before I became a speech pathologist, I was a secondary school teacher for many years. I taught Mathematics, French and German and a bit of Japanese, from Years 7 to 12. And before becoming a secondary school teacher I trained as an English as a Second Language / English as a Foreign Language teacher, initially to adults from a variety of professions and language backgrounds, and later to adolescents.

What I found interesting in the mathematics classroom was how students, particularly in the younger year groups, disliked the problem solving questions most. You know the types of questions, they probably bring back memories you’ve probably pushed way, way down (anyone remember the Betty and Jim problem solving series books in primary school? I’m showing my age, now…)…..

Here’s an example (not from Betty and Jim, btw):
“A barrel of sugar contains 16.4kg. If x kilograms is removed but then y grams is put back, find the amount of sugar, in grams, now in the barrel.”

“Heck!” I hear you say.

Not only has a student got to do the maths, the poor soul has to wade through all that language to work out where to start. Goodness, that question (“Is it a question? There’s no question mark!”) is loaded with a conditional clause, written in the passive voice, with vocabulary expressing quantity and hiding an imbedded question, not to mention the algebra you need to know to actually do the wretched thing. Many students just give up at the sight of it.

(Lots of groans in the classroom, all around.)

To be able to do maths, students need language. They need to be able to read and understand the questions.

I’ve found a nice article about this, from one of my favourite Australian online newspapers, According to Misty Adoniou (Senior Lecturer in Language, Literacy and TESL at University of Canberra), “Being a good reader with a broad general knowledge has become integral to mathematical achievement, so teaching language has become a necessary part of teaching maths.”

Is maths really that important? Well, I’m a bit biased myself. But Misty Adoniou might convince you, “Students who fail in mathematics are less likely to go on to further study and more likely to have lower-paying jobs.”

If you’re interested in reading more, hop on to our Facebook page to connect with the article itself.

And if you’d like to check your answer to the question above, get out your red pen:

(16400-1000x + y) grams

30 April  2015  CHILD LANGUAGE – Literacy

Did you know that if a child doesn’t get off to a good start with literacy, more than likely he or she will not catch up. “Like a rocket poorly lined up on the launching pad, they can end up very far from where they are meant to be,” writes Lorraine Hammond, Senior Lecturer in Education at Edith Cowan University.

Ooooh, boy….

She goes on to say that “the last time Australian children’s reading achievement was benchmarked against that of other countries in 2011, it was the lowest in the English-speaking world.”

 Scary, huh?

 This article from questions the effectiveness of a specific remedial reading program called Reading Recovery. However, it also recommends a number of more systematic and explicit literacy programs that are considered better than Reading Recovery, guided by the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy.

Here’s some food for thought, thanks to Lorraine Hammond:

“We vaccinate all children against deadly diseases, regardless of whether they are susceptible or likely to be exposed to them. The risks of not doing so are simply too great.

Likewise, we should be giving all children explicit and well-sequenced instruction about speech sounds and spelling patterns, integrated with work on vocabulary, comprehension and fluency, right from when they start school.”

 You can find the article on our Facebook page.


Many schools have gone down the pathway of open-plan classrooms.

Great for learning, perhaps, and excellent for collaborative teaching, but what about everyone’s hearing? What about the added distraction for those children who struggle to attend? And what about if a child has comprehension (receptive language) issues to start with?

Just some thoughts….

Read what thoughts Macquarie University PhD (Linguistics) candidate Kiri Mealings has to say about open-plan classrooms at

Hop onto our Facebook page to get the full story.

1 April  2015  DYSLEXIA

Dyslexia, according to Speech Pathology Australia, is a “learning difference that affects a child’s ability to develop a strong understanding of written language.”

A new program seeking to address the Dyslexia issue in schools is called Outside the Square. “Outside the Square is a community project driven by parents and educators passionate about social justice and education reform for children with dyslexia. We intend to empower children with dyslexia in education by closing the knowledge-to-action gap in our classrooms and the policy-to-practice gap in our schools. Our journey is through the eyes of teachers that have embraced change. Through their shared experiences and supported by Australia’s leading education researchers, we develop a deep understanding of dyslexia and showcase effective teaching strategies to assist students with dyslexia.”

Hop on to our Facebook page to connect with the Outside the Square website.

23 March  2015   CHILD SPEECH

According to a recent Australian Senate inquiry, “not all Australian children with speech difficulty are getting the right amount of help they need, at the right time.”

Additionally, there are ongoing risks for a child if speech difficulties continue as he or she enters school. Risks include “slower progression with reading, writing and overall school achievement, bullying, poorer peer relationship, and less enjoyment of school compared with their same-age peers.” This information comes from an article written by prominent speech pathologist, Elise Baker, and published online recently at

As Elise writes, “if you are concerned about your child’s speech, don’t make decisions about your child’s future based on myths. Find out the facts and seek professional advice from a speech pathologist.”

Connect with the article on our Facebook page.

16 March  2015   OROFACIAL MYOLOGY – The importance of nasal breathing

What do human beings, horses and kangaroos have in common?

To find out, click on ‘Blog’ on the menu bar above, and when the drop down list appears, select ‘Orofacial Myology’.

You can also connect to our Facebook page for the answer.

It makes for important reading – indeed, it could change your life.

9 March  2015   ADULT LANGUAGE – Vocabulary Development

Here are some questions for you this week:

  1. Are you 40 years old or over?
  2. Did you read for pleasure as a child?

Chances are that, if you can answer YES to these two questions, your vocabulary and maths skills (yes, maths skills) are pretty good.

But there’s even better news yet.

If you can answer YES to both questions, your vocabulary is STILL developing. And if you’re younger than 40, then you reap even greater rewards.

According to a recent study at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the University of London at UCL Institute of Education “reading for pleasure as a child appeared to exert a long-term positive influence of vocabulary development up to the age of 42. In addition, those who continued to read for pleasure frequently at the age of 42 experienced larger vocabulary gains between adolescence and mid-life than those who did not read.”

Interestingly, what you read also makes a difference – classic fiction and contemporary literary fiction are the big vocab developers. (I was hoping for crime fiction….alas…)

So, what to do now? READ! The “research suggests that encouraging a love of reading has an important role to play in promoting learning both in childhood and in adult life. The benefits of reading do not stop in childhood, but a love of reading gained in childhood can yield lifelong rewards.”

Make a start by reading the article at, shared on our Facebook page.


4 March  2015   NEW CLINIC RULES ????

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23 February  2015   ADULT VOICE

According to findings from Duke University Medical Center in the US, “patients with voice problems have nearly as many days of short-term disability claim and work productivity losses as those with chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease and depression.” The data also suggests that five to 10 per cent of the workforce uses their voice for professional purposes – people such as teachers, singers, radio and television presenters, actors, sales personnel, lawyers, psychologists, clergymen and women and telephone operators, to name a few – and every single person in this category is at risk of sustaining a voice disorder. And the statistics don’t stop there. Apparently only 5 to 20 per cent of people with a voice disorder, known as dysphonia, actually visit a doctor.

If you use your voice and suspect, or someone tells you, that it sounds strained, rough or breathy, if it hurts to talk, if you tend to lose your voice or if you get tired when talking, get it checked out. “People at risk for dysphonia need to understand that prevention is possible. They also need to see their doctor to obtain early detection and appropriate treatment.”

Check out our Facebook page for the study referred to above and presented by Duke University Medical Centre.

16 February  2015   CHILD LANGUAGE – Literacy and reading skills

It’s the second week of February and school is well and truly back.

 I remember being 5 years old in Kindergarten one Wednesday (yes, Wednesday) morning, sitting on the wooden classroom floor with my class (it was a little chilly and rather less comfortable at school in the 70s), listening to my teacher, Mrs Scott. She had a flip chart with butcher’s paper, on which she’d written “Today is Wednesday. It is sunny.” – complete with picture of a sun. I sat there thinking, yes, and? So what? I didn’t need to have her read that to me, pointing each word out. I could read it perfectly well by myself, thanks. As you may imagine, I was a bit bored. When was the real learning going to start? Any books?

But back then I didn’t realise many of the other children in my class couldn’t read. I didn’t realise they couldn’t do with ease what I took for granted. Even now, I don’t remember what it is like NOT to be able to read. I was lucky. My parents had read to me as a young child, and by the time I got to school, I was a fluent reader.

Many children arrive at Kindergarten today without being equipped with reading skills. Parents shouldn’t rely only on kindergarten or school to teach children to read. Learning to read begins at home. If you want your child to succeed academically, start reading early. Give your child that gift, so they can then read to learn sooner rather than later, and therefore excel.

“Children’s opportunities are seriously compromised if they don’t learn to read and spell. They are much more likely to drop out of school early, be unemployed, suffer ill health and get on the wrong side of the law.” And this is backed up by a great deal of evidence. I’ve discovered a timely article located at, from where this quote is sourced. I’ve put it up on the Positive Speech Facebook page. Hop on and have a read.

9 February  2015   Positive Speech in Snapshot Magazine

Thank you, Southern Highlands News Snapshot Magazine, for featuring Positive Speech on the front page of your February 2015 edition.

The magazine and accompanying article can be accessed from our website. Click ‘About Us’ from the menu above, and select ‘Media’ from the drop down list. Click on the front cover picture of the magazine to be taken to the online edition.

Happy reading!

4 February  2015   So what do Speech Pathologists really do?

I’ve recently discovered Babel – The Language Magazine, which is produced for lovers of language and linguistics. You can subscribe to the magazine, both digitally or in hard copy, or connect to their Facebook page which regularly posts interesting articles.

One recent article, entitled “Meet the Professionals”, is about a Speech Pathologist in Britain, Rebecca Levings. She talks about her work, how clients can benefit from speech pathology intervention, and why she loves her profession. “There are benefits for people at many levels. For the child it can help others understand them; this reduces frustration and behaviour issues. It also helps those children fulfil their academic potential. For the family I think they get a happier child who is easier to engage with.”

 Read the article in full, if you’d like to know more about what speech pathologists do!

26 January  2015   BILINGUALISM and Second Language Learning

As a speaker of several foreign languages myself (some more fluently than others), I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is to be able to communicate in a language other than English. Not only do you learn about yourself and improve your native language skills, you begin to work out how other people think, whilst deepening your cultural understanding of the world around you. What’s more, studies have shown that foreign language learning helps ward off dementia, probably better than just doing the crossword.

So, make 2015 the year that you learn another language, or build on the knowledge of the one or ones you already have.

Check out the article about bilingualism on our Facebook page. It makes for interesting reading.

14 January  2015   CHILD LANGUAGE – Oral language skills predict future written skills

Bilingualism at an early age is not detrimental to oral and written language learning.

Additionally, oral language skills in children can predict future written skills, according to researchers from French-speaking Canada at the University of Montreal.

Connect with our Facebook page to read the full article at

7 December  2014   DUMP THE DUMMY

“Prolonged use of dummies causes all sorts of problems and speech difficulties.

The tongue is one of the main articulators and it’s quite a big muscle. Like all muscles, if it isn’t used properly or used enough it gets a bit lazy. A dummy holds it down in one place. Words that should be formed at the front of the mouth are often produced at the back and then they are not pronounced properly.

Children are not moving their tongue to the correct position because the dummy is holding it down, which can make speech sound really unclear.

Prolonged use of dummies can increase the risk of ear infection, and can cause an overbite as the teeth grow around the teat.” Deborah Douglas, Speech Pathologist.

Use the dummy to pacify babies twelve months and younger, and then remove. Once a child’s teeth start to erupt, discontinue dummy use.

Connect to our Facebook page to read the above article from in full.


“If your two-year-old isn’t talking, or your four-year-old’s speech is difficult to understand, seek the advice of a speech pathologist. Do not wait until your child starts school to seek help. Children can have better outcomes if they receive help before they start school.” Elise Baker and Natalie Munro, Speech Language Pathologists from the University of Sydney.

Hop on to our Facebook page to read the full article at

17 November  2014    Breathe through your nose and close your mouth!

Fear less,

Hope more,

Eat less,

Chew more (at least 15 times per mouthful),

Whine less,

Breathe more (through your nose, and close your mouth),

Hate less,

Love more,

And good things will be yours.

 Swedish Proverb  (my suggestions in brackets!)

10 November  2014    MAKING CHANGES – It’s never too late…

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”            Albert Einstein

Is it time for you to do something about it and make those changes? Let us know if we can help.


“The early elimination of digit-sucking habits is one of the most important therapeutic services offered by the Certified Oralfacial Myologist because it provides the most benefit toward prevention and the well-being of the whole person. Treatment after the pathology is fully developed is invasive, not cost-effective and does not provide as good a clinical result.”

Rosemary van Norman.


A study on literacy at the University of Edinburgh and King’s College London in the UK has found that young children who develop strong early literacy and reading skills may demonstrate a higher level of intelligence when they get older.

And the reverse may therefore be true, according to Stuart J. Ritchie, a research fellow in psychology who led the study: “Children who don’t receive enough assistance in learning to read may also be missing out on the important, intelligence-boosting properties of literacy.”

So it seems, if your child has reading problems, it’s better to get it sorted sooner rather than later so as to maximise intellectual development. Hop on to our Facebook page to view the complete article.


According to research conducted at the Mayo Clinic in the USA last year, and published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, teachers are said to be 3.5 times more likely to develop a progressive speech and language disorder than patients with Alzheimer’s dementia. This translates as 3.5 times more likely to lose their ability to communicate.

As a former teacher, this isn’t the news I want to hear, but it makes for interesting reading.

Connect to our Facebook page to read the summary article located at


Research has shown that long term stuttering can result in increased anxiety in children, and may lead to problems at school. It can even have a detrimental effect on future employment and personal relationships if left untreated.

If you’re interested in learning more about this condition, and how speech pathology can help, connect to our Facebook page to read a simple article located at


According to research conducted by Lev-Ari & Keysar (2010), a non-native speaker of English, when speaking English, is deemed to sound “less credible” than his or her native English-speaking counterparts. This lack of credibility is compounded when the speaker has a “heavy” accent, as opposed to a “mild” accent. What these researchers found, albeit in the USA, was that this “processing difficulty” may be detrimental to not only basic communication, but also employment prospects, eyewitness accounts and news reporting, in that “such reduction of credibility may even have an insidious impact on millions of people, who routinely communicate in a language which is not their native tongue.” Thus, it’s not that accented speech is necessarily more difficult to understand, it is perceived as less truthful, and neither the native nor non-native speaker is consciously aware of this. If you’re interested in reading this article, download it from our Facebook page.

7 July 2014    ADULT MEMORY

As an older adult, are you having trouble remembering detailed, written information? “Don’t just read it, tell someone about it,” say researchers. Check out our Facebook page to read all about it. Then tell someone about it!


“[There] are ways to combat the combination of behaviour problems and so-called “learning difficulties” in young people. Underlying oral language skills need to be closely investigated by a speech pathologist, who should then work both with the child and the teacher to ameliorate the cancerous effects that undiagnosed (and hence untreated) language disorders can have on children’s achievement.” Pamela Snow, Read all about this on our Facebook page.