Areas of Practice

Social Interaction Skills

Social interaction skills form the foundation for successful interactions, emphasising the ability to engage, share, and understand others in various social situations.These skills involve understanding and interpreting both verbal and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Children with strong social interaction skills can initiate and maintain conversations, take turns when speaking, demonstrate empathy, and appropriately respond to others’ emotions. Additionally, these skills involve the understanding of social norms, personal space, and the ability to adapt communication styles based on the context. Smart Speech aims to support your child in developing these crucial social interaction skills, laying a solid foundation for successful interpersonal relationships and positive communication experiences in their personal and academic life.

Some common signs of social interaction difficulties include:

  • Difficulty initiating or maintaining conversations
  • Sharing too much information or interrupting others
  • Difficulty reading social cues like facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice
  • Limited empathy
  • Difficulty with turn-taking during conversations, games, or other activities
  • Limited interest in social activities or group play
  • Difficulty making and maintaining friends

Receptive and Expressive Language

Receptive language refers to the ability to comprehend and understand spoken or written language. Children with strong receptive language skills can follow directions, understand questions, identify and comprehend vocabulary, and grasp the meaning of spoken or written information. This skill involves processing and making sense of language input, whether it’s spoken words, sentences, or written text. Observing your child’s ability to listen, comprehend stories, and follow instructions provides insights into their receptive language development.

Expressive language involves the ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, and feelings effectively. This includes using spoken or written words, as well as nonverbal cues such as gestures and facial expressions. Children with well-developed expressive language skills can articulate their needs, share information, ask questions, and engage in meaningful conversations. Paying attention to your child’s vocabulary, sentence structure, and ability to express themselves creatively provides a glimpse into their expressive language development.

Some common indicators of language difficulties include:

  • Limited babbling and/or use of single words in young children
  • Using gestures more than words
  • Limited vocabulary or struggling to think of a specific word
  • Difficulty following verbal or written instructions
  • Using short sentences with incorrect grammar
  • Difficulty explaining word meanings
  • Difficulty retelling stories or events
  • Limited engagement in pretend play
  • Frustration or behavioural issues


Speech skills encompass the ability to articulate sounds clearly, allowing for effective communication.

Clear speech involves proper articulation and pronunciation of sounds. Children may need support in refining their speech clarity, especially if they exhibit challenges in pronouncing specific sounds or if their speech is difficult to understand.

Many children may struggle with particular speech sounds, known as articulation errors. For instance, they may substitute one sound for another (e.g., saying “wabbit” instead of “rabbit”) or omit certain sounds. We can provide targeted exercises and activities to address these specific speech sound difficulties, helping children master the correct production of each sound.

Phonological processes refer to patterns of sound errors that children may use in their speech. While some of these processes are a normal part of early language development, persistent use of certain processes beyond a certain age can impact intelligibility. We will work with your child to remediate these phonological processes through tailored interventions, helping them to achieve age-appropriate speech patterns.

You can support your child’s speech skills by engaging in speech-enhancing activities at home, such as reading together, practising specific sounds, and playing language-based games.

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is a crucial skill that forms the foundation for early literacy development. It refers to the ability to recognise and manipulate the sounds of spoken language. Phonological awareness involves various levels of sound awareness, from larger units like words and syllables to smaller units like phonemes, which are the individual sounds that make up words.

Phonological awareness is a strong predictor of early reading and spelling success. Children who develop strong phonological awareness skills are better equipped to understand the alphabetic principle, which is the connection between letters and sounds. This, in turn, supports their ability to decode words, recognise sight words, and ultimately become proficient readers.

Some common signs that may indicate difficulties in phonological awareness are:

  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Difficulty counting syllables in words
  • Unable to identify the first or last sounds in words
  • Trouble segmenting words into individual sounds
  • Struggles to blend individual sounds to form complete words
  • Poor discrimination between similar sounds
  • Late emergence of letter-sound correspondence:
  • Reading and spelling delays
  • Limited vocabulary knowledge


Literacy skills include reading, writing, speaking, and listening, forming the foundation for effective communication and engagement in various aspects of life.

Components of Literacy:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Critical Thinking

Children with literacy difficulties may exhibit a range of challenges that can impact their ability to read, write, and engage effectively with written language. Here are some common indicators:

  • Difficulty decoding (sounding out) words
  • Frequent spelling errors
  • Reading is effortful
  • Regularly guessing words when reading
  • Difficulty with expressing thoughts and ideas in writing
  • Avoidance of reading and writing tasks
  • Poor phonological awareness skills
  • Struggling to remember letters, sounds and words
  • Slow reading rate
  • Poor reading comprehension

Reading Comprehension

Your child might be reading, but are they really understanding? Reading comprehension difficulties are very common – they might occur because of underlying language difficulties, or because a child has difficulty with the mechanics of reading. Trouble with reading comprehension is not a reflection of lack of intelligence, but difficulties in this area will impact on their ability to learn at every level.

Reading comprehension is the ability to understand, interpret, and retain the meaning of written text. It involves not only recognising and decoding words but also making connections between ideas, drawing inferences, and extracting relevant information from the text. A strong reader comprehends the text’s main ideas, details, and underlying messages.

Here are some common indicators of reading comprehension difficulties:

  • Difficulty with remembering what they have read
  • Inability to answer questions about the text
  • Difficulty making inferences
  • Limited understanding of vocabulary
  • Slow reading rate
  • Avoidance of reading

Written Language

Writing is a multifaceted skill that is vital for communication, academic success, critical thinking and creative expression. Students are expected to write various text types in the classroom such as narratives, persuasive, discussions, essays and more. If paired with literacy difficulties, the cognitive demands of writing increase, making it difficult for your child to approach their homework or assignment.

Some indicators for writing difficulties include:

  • Taking a long time to get started
  • Not understanding the essay question or not answering it accurately
  • Not knowing how to start or what to write
  • Poorly organised written texts
  • Poor spelling and sentence structure
  • Not using language that suits the purpose of the text
  • High levels of frustration around homework tasks and written assignments

Selective Mutism

Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder that primarily affects children and is characterised by consistent difficulty in speaking or communicating in certain social situations, despite being able to speak comfortably in other familiar environments.

Key Features of Selective Mutism:

  • Consistent inability to speak – Children with selective mutism may consistently struggle to speak or communicate in specific social situations, such as school, public places, or with unfamiliar people.
  • Ability to speak in comfortable settings – In contrast to the difficulty in certain situations, children with selective mutism are typically able to speak comfortably and fluently in familiar environments, such as at home or with close family members.
  • Anxiety-driven silence – The inability to speak is driven by anxiety, and the child often fears negative evaluation or judgement from others. This anxiety can significantly impact their ability to engage verbally in specific social contexts.
  • Duration of symptoms – The symptoms persist for an extended period, typically lasting for at least one month or longer. The condition often becomes noticeable when a child enters school and encounters social situations that trigger anxiety.
  • Interferes with daily functioningSelective mutism can interfere with a child’s academic, social, and emotional development. It may affect their ability to participate in classroom activities, make friends, and engage in age-appropriate social interactions.

Therapy for Selective Mutism involves parent-training and exposure techniques such as ‘sliding in’. Our experience in this area sets us apart from other practices, with therapists having completed specialised training in Selective Mutism. We have seen many clients of varying ages with Selective Mutism and the results have been extremely rewarding for all involved.


Stuttering is a speech disorder characterised by disruptions in the normal flow of speech, leading to involuntary repetitions of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases, as well as prolongations of sounds. In addition to repetitions (e.g. “b-b-ball”), this can also look like an extension of the first sound (“ssssnake”), a silent pause in speech and/or secondary behaviours, such as blinking, facial grimaces or body movements. Stuttering often becomes more noticeable in situations of increased stress, excitement or pressure.

Early identification and intervention is very important, so if you notice any signs of stuttering, it is best to address it with a speech pathologist as soon as possible. We will work with you or your child to improve speech fluency, reduce disfluencies, and address any associated anxiety or secondary behaviours.

Auditory Processing

Auditory processing refers to the ability of the brain to interpret and make sense of sounds in the environment. It involves a series of complex neural processes that allow individuals to understand and respond appropriately to auditory information.

Signs of Auditory Processing difficulties:

  • Difficulty following directions: Children with auditory processing difficulties may struggle to follow oral instructions, especially if the instructions are complex or presented rapidly.
  • Mishearing or misunderstanding spoken information: Children may frequently mishear or misunderstand what is said to them, leading to confusion or incomplete comprehension.
  • Sensitivity to Noise: Individuals may be overly sensitive to environmental noises, finding them distracting or overwhelming.
  • Challenges in speech and language development: Auditory processing issues can impact speech and language development, including difficulty with articulation, vocabulary, and grammar.
  • Poor reading and academic performance: Difficulty processing and discriminating sounds can affect reading comprehension and overall academic performance.
  • Social and communication challenges: Auditory processing difficulties may contribute to challenges in social interactions, as individuals may struggle to understand and respond appropriately to spoken cues in conversations.