Tell a Friend
Is Your Child Falling Behind?

1 In 7 Will Suffer Learning Problems


  • 1 in 7 will Suffer a Communication Problem
  • 386,000 children have speech delays
  • 577,000 school-aged children have language delays
  • 326,000 people stutter
  • 2.5 million people have some level of hearing problem

Source: Speech Pathology Australia 2014

Communication Impairment is more common than you think…

  • 20% of four year old children have difficulty understanding or using language
  • 14% of 15 year olds have only basic literacy skills
  • 28% of teachers take time off work each year because of voice problems
  • At least 30% of people post-stroke suffer loss of language (aphasia)
  • 85% of those with Parkinson’s disease have voice, speech and/ or swallowing difficulties
  • 13,000 Australians use electronic communication aids to get their message across
  • Children with a language impairment are six times more likely to have a reading problem than children without
  • 46% of young Australian offenders have a language impairment
  • There is a high correlation between communication difficulties and poor mental health
  • Three in every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss, which without intervention can affect their speech, language and literacy. Indigenous children have three times more hearing problems than non-Indigenous children

The impact

The impact of communication impairment can range from mild to severe, with difficulties that can be temporary or last a lifetime. Even mild communication impairment can have a serious impact on how a person functions in their daily life, like speaking in class, ordering a meal in a restaurant or finding a job. Communication impairment can impact on interactions at home, at work and socially. Speech and language difficulties can affect learning at school including literacy, numeracy and interacting socially with other children. Long term implications of speech and language impairment include poor academic achievement, risk to mental health, reduced employment options and social isolation. People with communication impairment can suffer frustration, anger, embarrassment or grief as they try to communicate their needs, ideas and opinions. Others can misunderstand a communication impairment and respond inappropriately or insensitively to the person who is trying to communicate. Early intervention is the key to preventing or reducing the lifelong implications for many Australians living with communication impairment.

Source: Speech Pathology Australia 2014


Stuttering is a speech disorder that causes interruptions in the rhythm or flow of speech. These interruptions may include repeated sounds (c-c-can), syllables (da-da-daddy), words (and-and-and) or phrases (I want-I want-I want). Repetitions might happen once (b-ball, can-can) or multiple times (I-I-I-I-I want, m-m-m-m-m-m-mummy). Stuttering may also include prolongations, where sounds or parts of the word are stretched out (caaaaan I go) and blocks. Blocks are often silent and are seen when it looks like the person is stuck, trying to speak with no sound coming out. There are often secondary behaviours which accompany stuttering. These may be verbal and include grunts, small non-speech sounds, filler words (um/er) or pauses. They can also be non-verbal like grimacing, blinking or body movements. The exact cause of stuttering is unknown. Speech disorders are thought to be caused by differences in brain activity related to speech production. This means that stuttering is not usually caused or triggered by an event, person, experience, stress or anxiety. Some people inherit a predisposition to stutter. Who does stuttering affect? Stuttering can affect children, adolescents and adults. Around 1% of the population experiences stuttering at any given time and as many as 5% across a life time. Stuttering usually starts in early childhood, often by the age of three. It may start gradually over days, week or months, or it can be sudden, over hours or a day. Stuttering may change in type or frequency over time. It may decrease or seem to go away for periods of time. Recent research in Australia indicates that 8.5% of 3 year old children experience stuttering.

Not all children who start stuttering will continue. As many as 70-75% of children who start to stutter are thought to recover naturally without treatment. This natural recovery might occur quickly or take as long as a couple of years from when it first started. It is not possible to determine who will experience natural recovery, but adolescents and adults are very unlikely to experience natural recovery. What is the impact of stuttering? Stuttering can affect people of all ages. Preschool and school aged children may experience force or tension when they speak, negative responses by others and an awareness of their stuttering. As children who stutter get older, they are more likely to have negative attitudes about their stuttering, be teased or have social difficulties. These can continue into adulthood. Adults who stutter are more likely to avoid speaking situations and may not always express their opinions. They may also experience anxiety about speaking. Stuttering may also limit a person’s educational or occupational opportunities.

Source: Speech Pathology Australia 2014