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Cat helps Tom finds his voice - SP

Cat, a Better Rehab speech pathologist, works with Tom—a participant with cerebral palsy.

I have been seeing Tom for almost 12 months. 

Tom has difficulty communicating through speech because his condition contributes to reduced strength and coordination of muscles in his face, throat and neck. He has trouble speaking, and when he does it can be difficult to understand. 

When I first saw him, he was using an iPad to type messages to his family and friends. Tom struggles with precise movements, such as writing and grasping small objects.  

Tom’s mum told me he had seen several speech therapists in the past who had assumed Tom didn’t have the capacity to communicate because Tom tends to “shut down” when approached by an unfamiliar person.  

I am now in the process of customising a communication book to help Tom get his messages across in a more consistent and reliable way. Through the process of developing this book, I have been lucky enough to see Tom open up to me and share with me what is most important to him.  

The way the book works is it uses pages of images organized sequentially to help Tom communicate a thought, desire, or question. He points to the images one at a time express what he is thinking. 

It’s been incredible to see a person who other therapists thought was incapable of communicating begin to have more opportunity to connect with a greater range of communication partners in meaningful ways. 

This client has taught me that everyone deserves to be heard, regardless of how the message is conveyed (and sometimes people don’t want to interact with you, but that doesn’t mean they have NO capacity to do so on any level)! 

- Cat, Better Rehab Speech Pathologist


Cat made a Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) book for Tom. 

Watch this video to see Cat demonstrate how to use an electronic PODD communication software to tell you that her mum’s birthday is coming up:

PODD stands for:

  • Pragmatic – the ways that we use language socially
  • Organisation – words and symbols arranged in a systematic way
  • Dynamic Display – changing pages.

The aim of a PODD is to provide vocabulary:

  • For continuous communication all the time
  • For a range of messages
  • Across a range of topics
  • In multiple environments

If you are looking for a therapist for yourself, your client or your family member, or if you have any questions at all, please reach out to our friendly team!

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