Gold Coast toddler Kove is a bit of a groover, dancing and singing to music with his sister. He’s also a big fan of the outdoors from going down the slides at the park to going to the beach. Quiet time is also a fan favourite for Kove, who loves to sit in his parents Jarrad and Kirstie’s laps to read a book. 

Kove’s hearing was screened at birth through the universal newborn hearing screening where he received a refer result. Through follow up testing at Gold Coast University Hospital he was diagnosed with a unilateral hearing loss at three months old.

Img Kove Wearing Hearing Aids

“Kove has a moderate hearing loss in his right ear where he wears a hearing aid, and typical hearing in his left,” said Kove’s mum, Kirstie.

“I found that there was no drastic responses or feelings to this diagnosis as we were well informed by the teams every step of the way. We had an abundance of support from all of the services, so I can honestly say we were at ease with his diagnosis,” she said.

Kove experienced multiple hospitalisations due to illness which caused a mass of fluid to be present until he was almost 12 months old.

“He was then able to have grommet surgery which helped with being more receptive to sounds and also learning to make sounds,” said Kirstie.

“We as a family feel that Kove’s diagnosis is ‘normal’. We haven’t changed our feelings about it. He is still our baby and is still learning to communicate the same way, we just know how to help him understand better,” she said.

The family heard about Hear and Say through the hospital and Hearing Australia, who fitted  Kove’s hearing aid.

“We go to Hear and Say’s Varsity Lakes centre on the Gold Coast once a month for speech pathology,” said Kirstie.

“It has been an amazing experience to have Fiona as Kove’s speech pathologist since the early days. It has made some transitions so much easier,” she said.

“It has allowed us to have a better understanding of the way we communicate with Kove as well as others around him. It has also helped support our families and friends in the best way to effectively communicate with Kove.

“Watching the relationship the team has built with Kove has been a heart-warming experience! We have nothing but appreciation for the care and support we have received from the team at the Gold Coast centre!”

Img Kove With His Sister In A Shopping Trolley

Five-year-old Prep student Sam from Bushland Beach, just north of Townsville, was born with mild to moderate mixed hearing loss however hasn’t let it hold him back.

He keeps himself entertained, like any five year old, playing hide and seek and soccer. He enjoys going to the playground or beach with his brother Miles as well as dancing to the Shrek soundtrack, going to the local library and museum.

Img Sam And His Brother

“Sam was diagnosed with a hearing loss during his newborn screening test. The nurse thought there was an error and ran it a second time with the same result,” said Karen, Sam’s mum.

“She didn’t save the initial test, and came back the next day to run it again to see if new equipment gave a different reading,” she said.

“When the results were the same, she advised that Sam would need further testing and talked us through the referral process and what would happen next.

Sam’s parents hadn’t given any thought to Sam potentially being born with hearing loss as they didn’t have any family members with hearing issues.

“Sam’s hearing journey has been a bag of mixed responses. While in Brisbane, we kept receiving a mild hearing loss diagnosis and were told he should be fine, it’s only mild. Come back for more tests in one year and we’ll check any improvements or declines,” said Karen.

“Over three years, Sam had roughly five hearing tests, most unable to be completed as he’d get restless, yet the results were the same – mild hearing loss, come back next year. We were told Hearing Australia wouldn’t do anything until he was school age,” she said.

The family were then referred to the Childhood Health Hearing Clinic in Brisbane however with a sudden work transfer to Townsville plans changed quickly, which is when they were referred to local Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist Dr Shane Anderson for a follow up.

“It was Dr Anderson who referred Sam to Hear and Say as he told me he loved their individual response to children and were great at what they did,” said Karen.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our start with Hear and Say was delayed and we finally found a window of good health for Sam, and met with Liza, Audiologist and Listening and Spoken Language Therapist, a couple of times to complete the testing and assessment,” she said.

Img Sam And His Brother Playing In The Garden Hose

In late 2022 Sam was fitted with a hearing aid, and started Prep in 2023 at his local school, and continues to see Hear and Say each fortnight for regular specialised speech therapy.

“Sam has had hearing tests, speech and language assessment and now ongoing speech and language therapy through Hear and Say,” said Karen.

Img Sam Wearing His Blue And Red Hearing Aid

“Liza has been fantastic at being Sam’s champion when it comes to hearing loss. She has advocated for him to get a hearing aid as well as visited his school and met his teacher to talk her through using the remote microphone system technology,” she said.

“It was when we went to Hear and Say that I felt Sam’s hearing loss was deemed ‘real’. Liza acknowledged a hearing loss is a hearing loss, and even mild hearing losses can have consequences on speech and language, education and developmental milestones should be addressed and supported.

“It was such a relief we had finally found someone who supported our views, and actively set out to help Sam with his hearing loss.

“It opened our life to a whole new world of deaf and hard of hearing families. Educating myself at the start of this journey was key, so I armed myself with all the knowledge I could get to be able to support Sam.”

Unilateral hearing loss is when someone experiences hearing loss in one ear only. Generally speaking, if unilateral hearing loss is severe-to-profound, it can also be referred to as single-sided deafness.

The degree of unilateral hearing loss can range from mild to profound. Causes can include genetic disorders, viral infections, trauma or when a someone is born with specific ear abnormalities (for example, microtia and atresia). In many cases, the reason for unilateral hearing loss unknown.

Back Of Women's Head With Cochlear Implant

How common is unilateral hearing loss in Australia?

Unilateral hearing loss can occur in both children and adults. If a baby has hearing loss at birth it is diagnosed though the newborn hearing screening. As children get older, it is also possible for them to develop hearing loss, with the instances of hearing loss doubling by the time they reach school age. It’s also possible for adults to develop hearing loss, this might be a result of noise induced hearing loss, injury, or illness.

What are the symptoms of unilateral hearing loss?

The signs and symptoms of unilateral hearing loss include:

  • Favouring one ear when having conversations or talking on the phone
  • Often asking others to repeat what they’ve said
  • Feeling tired at the end of the day, likely from straining to listen
  • Struggling to work out the direction sound is coming from (localisation)
  • Have ringing in one ear (tinnitus)
  • Participate less in social situations
  • Struggling to understand speech in noisy environments

What causes unilateral hearing loss?

Unilateral hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Genetics
  • Accident, trauma or head injury
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Illness during pregnancy (e.g. cytomegalovirus)
  • Microtia and atresia
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Mastoiditis
  • Excessive noise exposure
Lady With Hearing Aid Talking To Man

What is the impact of unilateral hearing loss?

If unilateral hearing loss is left untreated, it has the potential to impact people’s speech and language, social and emotional wellbeing and educational progress in both children and young adults.

Man And Girl Laughing Looking At Each Other

People may have difficulty with:

Sound localisation: the ability to find where a sound is coming from. Sound will appear louder when closer to the better hearing ear. Sounds coming from a variety of directions may also be hard to locate, for example, when a child is playing in a playground or listening to peers in a classroom or in a noisy cafe.

Hearing speech in background noise: someone with unilateral or single-sided deafness will be better able to pick up speech if it’s directed to their better-hearing ear. Separating speech from background noise can be difficult especially hearing in a classroom or a restaurant.

Hearing from a distance: struggling to hear and understand people if they are standing at a distance, for example a farmer or construction working might find it challenging to hearing instructions if the person they’re talking to is not immediately next to them.

How is unilateral hearing loss diagnosed?

Unilateral hearing loss is diagnosed with a hearing test. They type of hearing test can range depending on the age of the person.

For newborn babies they are often diagnosed through the universal newborn hearing screening. If a baby is referred for further testing for one ear, an appointment with an audiologist is made within six weeks. The audiologist will then conduct an auditory brainstem response (ABR) test. This assessment is painless and is conducted while the baby is asleep.

For toddlers and young children, behavioural hearing tests are often used to diagnose hearing loss.

For anyone older children and adults hearing tests take about 60 to 90 minutes and involve a series of non-invasive assessments.

Can unilateral hearing loss be corrected?

For some people their hearing loss is temporary, however often unilateral hearing loss is permanent. Hearing technology, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, can help correct hearing loss and provide improved access to sound.

What can be done to treat unilateral hearing loss?

Hearing technology, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, can often improve hearing. The severity of the hearing loss and lifestyle of the individual will help determine what device is best.

Teenage Girls With Cochlear Implants

Hearing aids

Hearing aids are a common technology used to treat hearing loss. Hearing aids amplify existing hearing and, when worn consistently, can help prevent further deterioration of hearing by keeping the brain's auditory pathways stimulated. In the case of unilateral hearing loss, the hearing aid would only be worn on the poorer-hearing ear. Potential hearing aid options include traditional behind-the-ear; contralateral routing of signal (CROS); and bone conduction models.

Lady Holding Cochlear Implant

Cochlear implants

Implantable technologies, such as a cochlear implant, are suitable for people with permanent, severe to profound unilateral hearing loss. Through surgery, a cochlear implant is implanted – bypassing the normal hearing process. A cochlear implant performs the function of the inner ear by converting sounds to electric signals that stimulate the auditory nerve.

Use of a wireless communication device (WCD) system in the better hearing ear

Working with hearing aids or cochlear implants, wireless communication device systems improve understanding of speech in noisy environments by transmitting the speech signal directly to the better hearing ear, via a remote microphone used by whoever is speaking.

Early Intervention

Early intervention and support from a team of specialists, including audiologists, speech pathologists and ENT surgeons, can help the person with hearing loss to hear and speak to the best of their ability. These professionals work together to help ensure they can reach their full potential. Seeking support as soon as possible is vital to achieving the best possible outcomes.

We’re here to help. Book a hearing test or speech and language assessment for your child.

Get in touch

As every parent knows, a child's development against key milestones can vary and may not always align with key development stages. While every child develops at their own pace, speech and language skills follow a relatively expected development path.

Around the one-year mark, children start to imitate the sounds around them and in the following months, tend to string words together. It's important that during this time you monitor your child's development and encourage speech development.

  • Unable to say previously learned words
  • Having trouble imitating sounds
  • Preferring to point or use non-verbal cues instead of calling things or people by name
  • Strangers finding it hard to understand their pronunciation of words
Boy Climbing And Playing

Signs of possible speech delay at two-years-old

Here is what to look out for in your child’s speech:

  • Your child found it difficult learning and saying their first words
  • They struggle to say 50 proper words
  • They don’t understand simple directions and commands 
  • They can’t combine words to create two-word phrases such as “more food”
  • It affects their normal routine and time spent with other children
  • They rarely sing songs

Speech delays can be disheartening for parents however early treatment can help your child reach speech milestones similar to their siblings and peers.

If you have a late talking toddler that is displaying these signs, it is vital you go to see a doctor and get your child evaluated by a qualified speech pathologist so that the problem can be treated accordingly.

Signs of possible language delay in a two-year-old

Different to a speech delay, a child with an early language delay can make the correct sounds and knows the correct pronunciation of words but may struggle to form coherent sentences and words.

Peer reviewed studies show that symptoms include:

  • Not babbling at 15 months old
  • Not talking at two years old
  • Struggling to pronounce words
  • Leaving words out of sentences and not adding new words to their vocabulary
  • Not expressing themselves through language
  • Struggling to converse with other children of the same age because of their lack of communication skills

Early intervention is key for language delays. A speech pathologist can assist with your child’s progress and development.

Happy Girl

Possible reasons for the speech delay

There are various risks that should be considered if your toddler is struggling with speech and language delays, including neurological and hearing problems.

Primary risk factors can include:

  • Developmental Expressive Language Disorder (DELD): a condition that affects a child's ability to express themselves through spoken language, gestures and writing.
  • Receptive language disorder: a condition that affects a child's ability to understand and process language they hear. This can impact a child's primary speech and means they will struggle to learn new words.
Mum And Child Cutting With Scissors Play

Secondary risk factors may include:

  • Hearing loss: if you have a late talking toddler, they may need a hearing test. A child’s speech can be largely affected by their ability to hear and clearly understand what other people are saying.
  • Cerebral palsy: a group of disorders that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles and maintain their speech.
  • Childhood apraxia of speech: a condition where a child has serious speech and language delays because they have difficulty making accurate mouth and tongue movements when speaking.
  • Dysarthria: a condition where speech is delayed because of damaged nerves from the brain to speech muscles.
  • Autism spectrum disorder: a condition that can affect speech and language development, but children with autism tend to meet other communication milestones, such as gesturing. They may have difficulty articulating so it is important to monitor your child’s social skills and if they speak in a robotic or unusual tone – this can be an indication of autism spectrum disorder.

Speech delays can be indications of anything, from regular but slow development to an intellectual disability. As every child is different, it's important to speak to your child's doctor and closely monitor their developmental delays.

Although these factors should be considered, your child may have late language emergence, where no other diagnosed disabilities are evident. In this case, it is still important that you facilitate your child's language development by getting help from a speech pathologist to prevent any future speech disorders that may develop.

What should I do if I am concerned about my two-year-old child's speech and language development?

The number one action you should take is contacting your child’s doctor and speaking with a speech pathologist.

This way your child can be assessed with a speech and language assessment to find out what may be causing their developmental delay.

Your doctor will want to know how your child has been progressing, it is helpful to monitor their development and any specific parts of their speech and language they struggle with.

Eden Standing At The Couch

Assessment and diagnosis

Through different tests and communication tasks, your doctor and speech pathologist will be able to appropriately diagnose your child and their possible developmental disorders.

Img Baby With Hearing Aid At Playgroup

Think hearing first

Before undertaking a speech and language assessment, it is always recommended that children have a hearing test to confirm whether or not a hearing loss may be impacting their speech or language development.

Early intervention is key and any child with a suspected speech and language delay should see a health professional (such as their GP or speech pathologist) as soon as possible.

Speech and language assessment

The speech and language outcomes of an assessment will assist your speech pathologist in making an accurate diagnosis for your child. This assessment will test your child on:

  • If and how they make a range of sounds
  • If they can understand and respond to cues from the speech pathologist
  • If they can consistently repeat and pronounce words correctly
  • If they have strength in their speech muscles to speak effectively

Treatment and methodologies

A speech pathologist and a surrounding team of allied health professionals, play an essential role to improving a child’s speech and language skills.

After the diagnosis, an individualised treatment plan will be developed by a speech pathologist to address the needs and concerns of your child.

If the hearing test reveals a hearing loss is present, treatment options such as hearing aids, cochlear implants or bone anchored hearing aids are available, alongside speech therapy depending on the severity of your child’s condition.

Img Lady, Child And Man Laughing
Girl In Lesson With Speech Pathologist

Ongoing support

It can be difficult find out that your child has speech and language delays. It’s even harder to know what the next steps are going forward. With the guidance of health professionals, your child will be given the skills needed to reach milestones at the same rate as their peers.

Early intervention

Early intervention often consists of highly specialised speech therapy sessions, with the aim of helping children and families overcome speech and language delays. A qualified team of speech pathologists will carefully follow the progression of the child to ensure milestones are being achieved.

Therapists will also teach families more about their child's specific challenges and provide the necessary resources and skills to improve communication skills.

Families can work one-on-one with a speech therapist, either in-centre or via telehealth, to learn a variety of strategies that will assist a child's speech and hearing development.

Tips for parents of a late-talking two-year-old

“Late talker” is a term used for children typically within 18 and 30 months of age who display late developments in speech with no reason.

For children with hearing loss, most of those who receive early intervention prior to 12 months of age, develop age-appropriate speech and language skills by the time they’re three years old.

Early intervention with a qualified speech pathologist is recommended to encourage speech development amongst late talking toddlers. However, parents can help their children to develop early speaking skills with the following tips.

Small Boy Reading With Mum
  1. Avoid excessive questions: Constantly asking questions can be more stressful than encourage for your toddler. Make sure you use a calming tone of voice to avoid the feeling of anxiety.
  2. Speak slowly: Remember to speak slowly to ensure that your child has a better understanding of each word.
  3. Keep responding: It's important to make sure that you continually listen and respond to your child regardless of if they can't speak full words or sentences yet.
Mateo Looking At Camera

In some cases, a speech delay is caused by an underlying condition that requires immediate treatment. Speech or language therapies are available, alongside other therapies to help deliver the best possible outcome for your child.

One in five children learn to talk later than their peers, so it’s not always a cause for concern. If your two-year-old is showing signs of speech delay or you have any questions or concern with their language development, then please seek advice from a certified paediatrician.

Early intervention programs, alongside speech and language are available to help your two-year-old reach milestones.

We’re here to help. Book a hearing test or speech and language assessment for your child.

Get in touch

The speed of your child's development can certainly vary from other children, and their learning of speech and language is no different.

A speech delay is when a child is not developing speech at a rate similar to their peers, finding the most difficulty in making the sounds that form words.

In some cases, children have no issue speaking however they have trouble developing language skills. A language delay is when a child finds difficulty in understanding and using spoken language; their main challenge is with the comprehension of what they are hearing.

Three Children Playing On Slide

Signs of possible speech delay for a three-year-old

  • Unable to say previously learned words
  • Having trouble imitating sounds
  • Preferring to point or use non-verbal cues instead of calling things or people by name
  • Strangers finding it hard to understand their pronunciation of words

Signs of possible language delay for a three-year-old

  • Struggling to combine words into three- or four-word sentences
  • Showing little interest in books
  • Cannot follow simple verbal requests
  • Do not ask questions
  • Cannot tell a story or repeat a nursery rhyme

Possible reasons for three-year-old speech delay

Hearing problems: A problem with a child's hearing is likely to affect their ability to form sounds and words. This can stem from seemingly small issues like ear infections to a permanent hearing loss. Observing how your child interacts with non-verbal cues like gestures, in comparison to speaking, may give you an indication if this is an issue. 

Intellectual disability: Intellectual disability is another common cause of speech delay. Children with intellectual disability can have difficulty understanding social and practical situations. 

Physical mouth problems: Delayed speech can come as a result of physical problems with a child’s tongue, lips, teeth or jaw.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Problems with speech development often come as a result of Autism Spectrum Disorder, along with other delayed development signs such as impaired movement, cognitive and social skills.

Premature birth: Children born prematurely are more likely to experience delayed speech between two and three years old. This is as a result of the lack of development in the auditory cortex, the region of the brain responsible for understanding speech and language.

Boy With Hearing Aid Doing Craft

Cerebral Palsy: Speech delay is a commonly occurring trait in children with cerebral palsy, particularly the athetoid type, due to different levels of mental and physical development.

Other disorders: Other disorders that can account for developmental delay are expressive language disorder (an inability to translate ideas into speech), receptive aphasia (not listening rather than not hearing) or elective mutism (children choosing not to speak).

Mum And Child Cutting With Scissors Play

What should I do if I am concerned about my toddler's speech and language development?

The first step to take when concerned about your child’s speech and language development is to seek professional help, talking to a GP is often a good place to start.

Not only will this provide peace of mind as a parent, but will allow your child to receive the support they need as soon as possible.

Assessment and diagnosis

Talking to a trusted GP is a great way to assess if your child has a speech or language delay. You should aim to provide them with detailed notes of your observations. The GP may  also examine your child's speech, mouth and hearing and refer you onto a speech pathologist for further assessments for diagnosis and root cause analysis.

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists are examples of specialists that may be needed to assess your child's speech or language delays.

Hearing test

Even if a child passed their newborn hearing screen, they can still develop hearing loss as they grow older. A hearing test is encouraged to check if a potential hearing loss is impacting speech and language development.

Speech and language assessment

A speech and language assessment is a process that can lead to a diagnosis for your child. This can be a lengthy, but worthwhile, process of assessing your child’s communication ability, including interviews, observations and tests. This should ideally lead to a diagnosis, identification of the cause as well as offer options for treatment.

Edie In Audiology Lesson

Treatment and methodologies

A range of treatment options are available to treat a child's speech delay at three, however should be prescribed on a case-by-case basis and tailored to the individual child.

Child In Speech Therapy Lesson With Clinician

For example, if speech delay is just one symptom of a more general issue, treatment will be grouped with living with the larger issue as a whole. If your child has a hearing loss and you come to Hear and Say, you will be connected with an audiologist and a speech pathologist who will work together to get the best outcomes for your child.

In a different case, where speech or language delays are due to ear or hearing issues, hearing technology, such as hearing aids, might be suggested initially before then focusing on the delay.

Speech therapy

Speech therapy is the most common treatment for children with speech delay. This therapy entails the help of a speech pathologist who will assist in improving your child’s development by practicing language intervention and articulation activities, as well as oral exercises if needed.

Ongoing support

Early intervention, such as regular speech therapy, is the best way to ensure your child can catch up to their peers and develop age-appropriate speech and language skills. By intervening early, the child has a greater ability to catch up to their peers and they will find it easier to learn to hear, listen and speak as well as new skills.

Tips for parents of late talking toddlers

Raising a child with a speech delay can be difficult at times. As they can struggleto express their emotions effectively it can lead to them acting out, irrational behaviour and anger.

Here are few examples of activities you can do at home with your child to encourage verbal communication development:

  • Read to your child
  • Speak to your child often, even if it is just describing what you are doing or singing a song
  • Encourage your child to speak back to you and engage in conversation
  • Praise speaking and give positive feedback often
  • Encourage your child to interact with children with good language skills
Toddler Reading Box With Adult

Remember, early identification and intervention gives your “late-talker” the best chance to catch up with their peers before they begin school. If you suspect that your child has speech or language delay, book a consult with a trusted GP, paediatrician or speech pathologist today.

We’re here to help. Book a hearing test or speech and language assessment for your child.

Get in touch

Many share the common idea that occupational therapy and speech therapy are similar, as both professions focus on rehabilitation services. However, there are distinct differences between the scope of an occupational therapist and speech therapist. This article explains the role and scope as well as how occupational and speech therapy can benefit you.

Occupational Therapist With Boy Playing A Game

What is an occupational therapist?

Occupation therapy, also commonly known as OT, is a field that treats a patient from head to foot. The primary goal is to help patients feel more independent in the activities of everyday living, whether it’s eating food, getting out of bed, or going to the shops.

Occupational therapists use a range of exercises and adaptions to help individuals practice self-care and complete basic life skills that they might find challenging or overwhelming due to disability, injury or illness. Occupational therapists sometimes work closely with speech pathologists, particularly when working with a client who has hearing loss.  

Occupational therapy and hearing loss

It’s common for children with hearing loss to experience sensory or motor difficulties because the vestibular system which is responsible for your sense of balance and movement, is located in the inner ear and may also be implicated when there is hearing loss. The vestibular system plays an important role in a child’s motor skill development including balance, core stability, muscle tone and coordination of both sides of the body.

At Hear and Say, an occupational therapist will work with our team of speech pathologists and audiologists to holistically monitor and support the development of children with hearing loss. They aim to identify potential issues as early as possible and then provide targeted strategies to help children thrive in their everyday settings.

Practice areas and expertise

Occupational therapists work with people who might be impacted by the below:

  • Aging
  • Injury or illness
  • Autism
  • Difficulties with fine and gross motor skills
  • Developmental delay
  • Intellectual disability
  • Physical disability
Child With Soccer Ball in OT appointment

Occupational therapists practice in a number of areas including:

  • Acute care therapy: working directly with patients in hospital who require immediate treatment plans after experiencing a high-risk surgery or traumatic injury.
  • Acute rehabilitation therapy: intense rehabilitation therapy where patients are required to stay for an extended period of time and attend daily sessions.
  • Subacute care therapy: people that are currently not in hospital but still require intense therapy. Occupational therapists will typically work with patients three to five times during a week.
  • School environments: an Occupational therapists works independently in a classroom helping students with learning difficulties and social participation.
  • Assistive technology: occupational therapists determine the technology needed to help patients complete daily tasks with little to no assistance.
  • Home care: therapy sessions delivered within the patients home.
  • Private practice: sessions are booked via appointments and treatment is based on the patients particular needs.
  • Teach life skills: an occupational therapist explores many aspects that assist the patient in developing various life skills. This can include supporting appropriate positioning for eating and swallowing, this might include aids such as adapted utensils. 
Child In Ot Appointment

Education and qualifications

In order to practice, occupational therapists must obtain the following qualifications:

  • An undergraduate or master’s degree in occupational therapy
  • Be recognised and meet the national regulation requirements set by the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia for the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency

Benefits of occupational therapy

The main focus of occupational therapy is to support independence, safety and meaningful engagement in daily tasks. These tasks are inclusive of self-care, productivity and leisure activities. When working with children, the aim of occupational therapy is to get the child to be able to participate in their activities of daily living and play the same as their siblings and peers.

A parent might consider coming to an occupational therapist if they’ve notice that their child has been slower to reach some of their gross and fine motor milestones. For example, their child may be taking longer to learn how to crawl, walk, jump or climb on playground equipment. They may also notice that their child has difficulty using their hands for play and self-care activities such as holding cutlery at mealtimes, holding a pencil for drawing and writing activities or learning to cut with scissors.

Alternatively, they might be concerned about their child’s ability to settle and focus on play and early learning activities. Children need to be able to control their bodies so that they can sit stably to attend and listen. They also need to be able to screen sensory input so that they can focus on what is relevant in a particular situation.

What is a speech pathologist?

Speech pathologists, also commonly known as speech therapists, assist people with speech and language challenges. Speech therapist’s overall goal is to help patients communicate more effectively. 

Practice areas and expertise

Speech pathologists support people with:

  • Articulation
  • Speech motor planning
  • Oral motor skills
  • Swallowing
  • Language development
  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
Girl In Lesson With Speech Pathologist

Education and qualifications

In order to practice speech pathology, an individual must obtain the following:

  • An undergraduate or master's doctorate degree in speech pathology
  • Be recognised as a member of the professions governing body, Speech Pathology Australia
Child In Speech Therapy Lesson With Clinician

Listening and Spoken Language Specialist certification

Hear and Say has many listening and spoken language specialist who have undergone specific training to work with people impacted by hearing loss. In addition to the above, they have completed the below to achieve the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist certification:

  • 900 hours of professional experience
  • 80 hours of professional development
  • 20 hours of mentored sessions
  • Pass the final exam

Benefits of speech therapy

Speech pathologists can be helpful to all ages, whether it's the ability to speak more clearly or understand one's feelings and thoughts. Mastering these skills also increases self-esteem and independence for people with speech and language disorders.

Speech therapy for children

Every family hopes their child will meet all their developmental milestones. It can become worrying when their child does not seem to be on track with the development of their communication skills, from first words, to articulating phrases to language comprehension.

It can also be extremely frustrating for the child who is desperately trying to express themselves when they have something to say. Thankfully, speech therapists are an invaluable resource when it comes to supporting a child’s speech, language and communication skill set.

Speech therapy for children with hearing loss

For children with hearing loss who use hearing technology like hearing aids, learning to hear and speak takes a lot of work and additional support. At Hear and Say our speech pathologists specialise in working with children impacted by hearing loss. They work closely with paediatric audiologists and occupational therapists to help the child reach their language goals. Speech therapists tailor each lesson to the individual to give babies and children the critical skills they needed to hear and speak just like others around them. Lessons often involve lots of play-based learning, including games and reading.

Child In Speech Therapy Appointment

Similarities between occupational therapy and speech therapy

While these careers are different from one another, they both share a common goal of aiming to improve patients’ lives. Occupational therapists and speech therapists career paths align in the following ways:

  • Evaluation: Evaluating patients for issues and disorders is a key responsibility for occupational therapy and speech pathologists.
  • Treatment Plans: Both occupational therapists and speech pathologists must use what they have learned from evaluating their patient's ability along with their medical history to create tailored treatment plans. Both professions are highly evidence and research based.
  • Family Education: Most therapy patients have disabilities that require a collaborative approach with their families to continue treatment outside of sessions. Speech Pathologists and occupational therapists both have to educate families on injuries and disorders. This includes what families can do to help patients benefit from therapy as much as possible and develop critical life skills.
Img Mateo In Lesson

Differences between occupational therapy and speech therapy

While both professions work in similar settings and some treatments may overlap, there are some main differences between occupational therapy and speech therapy including:

  • A therapeutic focus: Speech pathology is primarily focused on issues and dyabilities surrounding communication. Whereas, Occupational therapy is focused on the big-picture perspective, analysing the individual’s problems as intertwining issues and developing relevant treatment to cater for that.
  • Different required education and training: While the training for both occupational therapy and speech therapy is similar there is different education and training required.

The team at Hear and Say is here to help work out which option is best for you.

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Hearing aids and cochlear implants are both excellent hearing solutions for people who are deaf or with residual hearing.

The best type of device will differ from person to person and should take into consideration the advice of their medical specialists, speech pathologist, audiologist, hearing assessment or hearing test results and the needs of the individual.

A cochlear implant can help someone who is deaf to hear by doing some of the function of the inner ear, electrical signals deliver sound and stimulate the auditory nerve. Comparatively, hearing aids amplify sounds to assist with hearing.

Man With Hearing Aid Talking To Lady

What are hearing aids?

Hearing aids are small wearable electronic devices that amplify sound to assist people with hearing impairment or hearing loss.

Hearing aids are a good option for people with mild, moderate or moderately severe hearing loss. These small external devices either sit behind the ear or in the ear. Using technology like hearing aids often improves quality of life as it allows the user to better socialise and connect with their friends and family.

Hearing aids are battery powered, they amplify sounds that are picked up using an inbuilt microphone, speaker and computer chip.

There are many different types of hearing aids, the best option will vary from person to person.  An individual’s hearing loss or impairment, the advice of their hearing professional and personal style preferences will influence which hearing device is chosen.

Hearing aid style options include:

Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids: the part of the device containing the battery and other features sits behind the ear and is connected to an ear fitting that sits inside the ear canal to transmit sound.

Receiver in the canal (RIC): this is smaller than a BTE device and has a thin, almost invisible wire that connects the hearing aid to the loudspeaker receiver that sits within the ear canal.

In the ear or in the canal (ITE/ITC): the ITE sits completely within the outer ear, while the ITC sits just inside the ear canal.

Completely in the canal (CIC) or invisible in the canal (IIC): these sit deeper in the ear canal, making them almost completely invisible, these are the most discrete option.

How hearing aids work

All hearing aids generally work in a similar way, they make sounds louder, improving the hearing of the user and ultimately increasing quality of life.

Hearing aids have a small microphone which converts sounds into an electronic signal.

Depending on the level of hearing loss of the user, the signal is then processed and modified by the device.

Lastly, the hearing aid contains a miniature loudspeaker called a receiver which sends the processed sound through the earfitting.

Various Hearing Aids

Pros and cons of hearing aids

Hearing aids are a good option for many people with hearing loss, allowing the user to control some aspects of the technology, including volume and device power status.

Hearing aids are a fantastic way to improve communication and reduce isolation.

Child With Hearing Aid On Playground

Benefits of hearing aids include:

  • When worn consistently, hearing aids can help to reduce further hearing loss by keeping the brain’s auditory pathways stimulated
  • Hearing aid style options including the receiver in canal, in the ear, completely in the canal, and invisible in the canal, offer improved customisation in terms of the fit in the ear, size of the device and how discretely they can be worn
  • In comparison, the behind the ear models are larger in size, making them easier to handle – a good option for people with arthritis or vision impairment
  • Behind the ear models can also last longer as the active components are sitting behind the ear which protects them from potential damage or harm from ear wax, etc. in the ear canal
  • Many hearing aids can be equipped with rechargeable batteries

Some hearing aids can automatically adjust to the environment the user is in, while others can be adjusted via remote control or smart phone app to the specifications and at the convenience of the wearer.

Perceived Hearing aid cons include:

  • Battery life on some devices can be challenging
  • The visibility of the external device
  • Challenges associated with fitting them in the ear for individuals with arthritis or impaired movement
  • Risk of misplacing the device
  • Risk of incurring technical difficulties in operating the device and settings

Please note that a lot of these downfalls can be overcome by talking to an audiologist who can tailor the device to your needs, should something go wrong Hear and Say is here to help.

Lady Wearing Hearing Aids

What are cochlear implants?

Cochlear implants are implantable devices that provide sound to a person with profound or severe hearing loss.

Cochlear implants are made up of two components, an implant is surgically placed under the skin to bypass the damaged portion of the hearing to stimulate the auditory nerve, and a sound processor that sits behind the ear. Cochlear implants are typically recommended when hearing aids are no longer enough as they enhance the clarity of sound and improve someone’s ability to understanding speech.

Back Of Women's Head With Cochlear Implant

How cochlear implants work

Cochlear implants generate signals that are sent through the auditory nerve, directly to the brain, which then recognises the signal as sound.

The component of a cochlear implant which is surgically implanted consists of:

  • A receiver stimulator to receive signals from the speech processor (which sits behind the hear) to convert them into electric impulses, and
  • An electrode array which collects the electric impulses from the receiver/stimulator and sends them to different parts of the auditory nerve

It takes time to learn to hear with a cochlear implant as the brain has to learn or relearn how to identify sounds through this new device.

Pros and cons of cochlear implants

Cochlear implants are life-changing implantable devices for individuals with severe or profound hearing loss.

Benefits of cochlear implant include:

  • For someone with severe or profound hearing loss, a cochlear implant can allow them to hear and understand speech again
  • Cochlear implants enable the brain to take sounds from the external environment via the external processor, process this information, and create meaning of it, allowing someone to hear
  • Babies born deaf receiving a cochlear implant early in life can learn to hear and speak just like their siblings and friends
  • The ability to recognise speech like someone with typical hearing
  • The ability to understand speech without relying on lip reading
  • They assist with hearing environmental noise such as footsteps and traffic
  • The ability to hear one’s own voice and control it
  • Improved language skills as a result of hearing more

Some considerations and cons of cochlear implants include:

  • They require a surgical procedure and extensive speech therapy to actively learn or relearn how to hear using the devices.
  • Needing to remove the external component while bathing or swimming (however there are accessories that can be worn to make these devices waterproof)
  • Recharging or changing batteries frequently
  • Risk of accidental damage to the implant
  • As a cochlear implant provides the ability to hear through stimulating the auditory nerve, a cochlear implant recipient may lose any residual hearing as a result of the surgery to receive the implant.

Despite some challenges, cochlear implants truly are an incredible device that allow someone who is deaf to hear. Always remember that the team at Hear and Say is here to help should you have any concerns or challenges.

Lady Holding Cochlear Implant

Similarities between hearing aids and cochlear implants

Both cochlear implants and hearing aids work to improve hearing and in turn increase quality of life.

Teenage Girls With Cochlear Implants

Differences between hearing aids and cochlear implants

Differences between cochlear implants and hearing aids include:

  • Hearing aids make sounds louder
  • Cochlear implants use electrodes to transmit sound signals which are converted into electrical impulses that can be interpreted by the brain
  • Hearing aids are worn inside or behind the ear and are not surgically implanted like cochlear implants are
  • Hearing aids are ideal for individuals with mild and moderate hearing loss. Cochlear implants are a good option for individuals with severe hearing loss.

Does my child need hearing aids or a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implants aren't suitable for everyone, so consideration and advice from a medical professional is required.

Cochlear implants are suitable for babies born deaf, children and adults who have severe hearing loss in one or both ears, have not found success in using hearing aids and for those who have been deemed medically fit for this type of surgery.

Hearing aids can be suitable for babies and children with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Regardless of the device chosen it is highly recommended to also seek out speech therapy. A speech therapist can help a child or adult to learn to identify sounds and improve speech and language skills through a range of strategies and techniques.

The most suitable type of device depends on the individual's specific type of hearing loss and needs.

The team at Hear and Say is here to help work out which option is best for you.

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Like many four-year-olds, Elias is full of energy! At one month old, Elias was diagnosed with hearing loss but he hasn’t let that slow him down, he loves riding his bike, playing outside, climbing and running. He’s also a big fan of books, cars and Lego.

Elias’s diagnosis was unexpected news to his mum Rachel, this shock is a shared feeling for many families receiving this information.

“Elias has moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. His loss is ‘sloping’, meaning he hears at near-normal levels for low frequencies (think the sound of a truck or a dog barking) and has a moderate loss for high frequency sounds (such as birds chirping),” said Rachel.

Elias With His Family

“We were really surprised when Elias was diagnosed, we had no idea he wasn’t hearing properly. He’d turn to our voices and respond when we talked to him, so it didn’t occur to us that his hearing was compromised.”

At three months old Elias got his first pair of hearing aids and at five months he started to come to Hear and Say. 

“Initially we were seeing specialised speech therapist each fortnight, these appointments became monthly as he got a bit older. We also attended the infant and parent group, Listen Little Stars and progressed to the LEAP playgroup when Elias was nearing two,” said Rachel.   

“We also saw an occupational therapist at Hear and Say when Elias was two years old to check that his balance and motor skills were developing as expected.”

These services have made a difference to Elias and his whole family.

“We’re so grateful for the services and support offered through Hear and Say, it has made an enormous difference for Elias and our family,” said Rachel.

“We've been able to maximise Elias's listening and speaking, because we've had access to skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced speech therapists,” she said.

“Elias often tells his friends and our extended family members about ‘my Hear and Say’ and shares his many wonderful experiences at LEAP. 

“He doesn’t know many local children who have hearing loss and attending Hear and Say normalises wearing hearing aids, he plays with other kids that have hearing loss and wear hearing aids or implants,” she said.

Reflecting, Rachel says that their decision to make sure Elias could hear felt like the right option to do for her family.

“Since Elias is the only person in our family with hearing loss (besides older relatives), and because his loss is sloping, it was natural to connect him with the world of sound through specialised speech therapy and audiology services.

“We also knew that developing listening and speaking skills would offer him the greatest number of opportunities to play with friends, take part in sports, and school activities, as well as jobs and hobbies when he’s older,” said Rachel.

It’s no mean feat to support a child with hearing loss as they learn to hear and speak, it takes professional support and most importantly these outcomes rely on families and parents like Rachel as their child’s primary teacher.

Img Elias With Brothers

“Early intervention has meant that his speech and language skills are at the same level as children without hearing loss,” said Rachel.  

“We often have friends and family comment that you'd never know he had a hearing loss if he wasn't wearing hearing aids.”

Emily And Her Siblings

Enthusiastic Loud Shirt Day and Loudest Town participants Kerryn and Sam from the small town of Aramac, 120 kilometres west of Longreach, are again making plans for this year's Loud Shirt Day – slated to be the biggest yet!

All for a cause close to their hearts, nine-year-old Emily was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in her left ear and moderate-to-severe loss in her right ear at birth.

The diagnosis came as a surprise to parents Kerryn and Sam, as they had no family history of hearing loss and no troubles during pregnancy.

“Sam and I were in denial for the first couple of weeks, thinking maybe the machine wasn’t working properly or her ears were just blocked,” said Kerryn.

“It wasn’t until we travelled to Brisbane when she was about three weeks old and spoke to an audiologist at the hospital that it actually sunk in,” she said.

“For two new parents from the bush to travel 1,200km away from our home and family to seek answers was very daunting.

“I can still remember those first couple of months so clearly – it was a whirlwind of appointments with many different specialists and so much information to absorb.”

When Emily was about four months old, she was fitted with hearing aids and at one year old she had her first cochlear implant surgery. In 2021 Emily had her second cochlear implant surgery as her hearing aid in her right ear was no longer enough.

Emily sees Hear and Say fortnightly for specialised speech therapy sessions via telehealth, and travels to the Townsville and Brisbane centres for audiology services.

“Her speech and language blows us away every day. Her reading and writing is immaculate and she loves to learn,” said Kerryn.

“It’s been a long road, but we are so proud of how far Emily has come and we are confident she has an amazing future ahead of her,” she said.

“Living in a rural area has certainly been a huge challenge with the distance we need to travel, and the cost involved with that. The feeling of isolation, especially in the early years was very hard, however we got through the other side by sticking together.

“One of the hardest things was travelling away by myself as Sam had to stay at home to keep working and, as our family grew, he needed to stay at home to care for our other kids.”

 Kerryn, Sam and their family are grateful for Hear and Say’s support and are some of our most enthusiastic Loud Shirt Day supporters – jumping back on board to fundraise for the fifth year in a row!

Emily With A Lamb

“Hear and Say have also been a huge support to our family, especially living in a rural area. The speech and language skills Emily has learnt from her specialists is something we will be forever grateful for. It has made a huge difference already, especially as Emily transitioned into mainstream school at the start of her Kindy year in 2017,” said Kerryn.

Not only do the family take part in Loud Shirt Day but were were awarded the title of  Queensland’s Loudest Town competition for 2022 – raising almost $30,000, with plans to make 2023 their biggest year yet.

Emily And Her Parents

“We’re very excited for this year’s Loud Shirt Day, there will be lots of activities happening,” said Kerryn.

“For the first time in 2022, all gate entry fees from the three-day Ballyneety Rodeo were donated towards Aramac’s Loudest Town campaign, we had new custom-designed loud caps, and our Let’s get loud for Emmy fishing shirts. We’ll also hosted our annual BBQ breakfast on the main street of Aramac that featured another raffle,” she said.

“Loud Shirt Day is all about repaying the kindness we’ve experienced at Hear and Say by raising as much as we can. We hope that Aramac’s contribution can make the lives of other families affected by hearing loss that little bit easier.

“To anyone that is even considering getting involved in Loud Shirt Day – please just do it! It’s something that you would never regret. It’s not something that you have to do on your own either. Hear and Say are there every step of the way.”

Townsville twins Marley and Sienna share a love of swimming and gaming. Now 10-years-old and attending their local school, both girls have great aspirations for their futures.

Marley wants to be a veterinarian and Sienna has her eye on both an interior designer and acting.

The sisters both have hearing loss caused by Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome – a condition which affects the formation of the inner ear.

In June 2022, Marley and Sienna shared the experience of having a cochlear implant turned on for the first time. While they both now wear these hearing devices, their journeys with hearing loss have looked different up until this point.

Marley And Sienna


“Sienna was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss at birth which was picked up via the newborn screening test done at the hospital,” said Hayley, the twins’ mum.

“She was initially fitted with hearing aids however her hearing gradually deteriorated over the years,” she said.

“In June 2020, Sienna received her first cochlear implant in her left ear. She was so excited for her switch on, I remember her saying she couldn’t wait to be able to hear what the other kids hear. 

“It was honestly a surreal moment, from Sienna growing up with hearing loss, and then for her natural hearing to slowly deteriorate as she got older to reaching the point of a cochlear.

“I remember feeling sad we had reached this point but also so happy that she’d have the opportunity to be able to hear. 

“Whilst it was an uphill battle getting Sienna used to wearing her cochlear at first, with moments of her refusing as she was struggling to get used to ‘the beeps’ and that was hard.

“This was especially heightened since she received her first implant during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown and remote learning from home.

“Looking back now, it was the best decision for Sienna and the progress she made from her first implant to now is nothing short of amazing. She has put in all of the hard work and it’s paid off for her.”


“Marley was diagnosed at nine years old with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in her left ear and a moderate rising to normal hearing loss in her right ear.

“In fact, Marley’s testing on her left ear was inconclusive for a period of time. She completed two Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing sessions to diagnose her hearing loss in her left ear.

The double switch on

“Recently, Sienna received her second cochlear (in her right ear) and Marley was fitted with her first cochlear implant on her left ear and she wears a hearing aid on her right.”

With no family history of hearing loss Hayley was saddened when Sienna was born with hearing loss, and when they found out about Marley’s diagnosis later on.

Marley And Sienna On Switch On Day

“We moved to Townsville from Melbourne in January 2021 and we started Sienna in speech therapy at Hear and Say,” said Hayley.

“The support we have received from Hear and Say has been phenomenal – Marley and Sienna have received the best treatment, and they’ve helped us as a family navigate our way through the hearing loss world,” she said.

“We’ve learnt a lot and received helpful guidance. The entire journey with Hear and Say has been nothing but positive.”

Hayley looked ahead to the future, watching her twin girls grow up happy and with a life full of opportunity.

“I hope their futures are bright and happy. I want them to be able to have careers that they enjoy and that they are successful in whatever adventures they get into,” said Hayley.

“I hope they get to experience travelling to other countries and immerse themselves in different cultures and be able to spread awareness for hearing loss.”


Online learning

From tinnitus, to cytomegalovirus, to teaching kids with hearing loss – further your knowledge with our on demand webinars.

2021-22 Annual Report

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“The program gives our staff a sense of pride in the company and for the work they do at Sci-Fleet." – Allison Scifleet, Guest Experience Manager, Sci-Fleet Motors.

Sophie's story

“Our whole family has benefited from the fantastic support we receive at Hear and Say. It has been a safe place for our family to talk with the therapist and other families in similar situations."

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Elspeth's Story

“Elspeth is smashing her speech and language goals and her confidence is soaring.”

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