Speech Therapy

Rachael Stocks & Annabelle Scotney


Students attending Waratah SDS have a range of communication skills. Some students are non-verbal and are developing their skills in communicating at a formal level. Other students may have well developed language skills and need support with their social skills.






At Waratah SDS, the Speech Pathologist works alongside teaching staff to develop and implement effective and successful programs to enhance student’s functional communication skills, including the ability to


  • Understand a message (receptive communication)
  • Give a message (expressive communication)


Ensuring that students have an effective communication system that meets their skills is considered a high priority at Waratah. This may include the use of AAC systems (Alternative and Augmentative Communication systems), which can provide a means of communication for students who have difficulty understanding or using speech alone. AAC systems used at Waratah SDS include:

  • Key word sign and gesture
  • Picture based systems
  • Picture Exchange Communication System
  • ‘Core Vocabulary’ Book – a comprehensive communication system designed by the schools Speech Pathologist.
  • PODD (Pragmatically Organised Dynamic Display) book
  • Electronic (voice output) system

                    - Speech Generating Devices

                    - Communication apps on an iPad


Speech Pathologists collaborate with teaching staff and families to develop goals and implement effective communication strategies. They also work alongside other allied health professionals, particularly our Occupational Therapist to meet the needs of students. Liasing with external therapists in the aim to provide a consistent approach is considered essential to optimise the skills of students.


In addition to supporting communication skills the Speech Pathologists focus on the assessment and treatment of swallowing difficulties for students who are not able to safely eat or drink. Speech Pathology input is also provided to expand the range of foods and drinks that students might eat and drink if they have a limited variety.