Speech Pathologists work with teachers and students to maximise the student’s communication abilities, and enhance receptive and expressive communication skills. St Lucy’s uses a total communication approach, in which spoken language, Key Word Sign, visual supports and voice output devices are used with the students, and any form of communication attempts made by the students are encouraged by staff.
Speech pathologists aim to ensure that each child in the school has a functional communication system. Various methods of AAC are used and tailored to the student’s needs. AAC systems include Key Word Sign, PECS, PODD and voice output technology including Proloquo2go.
A functional communication assessment and communication profile is completed for each student attending the school. These are developed jointly with teachers and speech pathology staff, and detail the student’s unique expressive and receptive language skills, and how to best support the student in communicating across all aspects of their school environment.
2016 Speech Pathology Staff
Natalie Montgomery (Head of Therapy Services)
Natalie graduated from Curtin University in Western Australia in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science (Human Communication Science). She is a Certified Practising member of Speech Pathology Australia.
Natalie’s first role was at Jurien Bay where she established a regional Speech Pathology service for the Western Health Service. Following that she worked in Bunbury in both early childhood development and acute care for South West Area Health Service. She then worked in private practice specialising in children and adolescents with Autism. Natalie moved to Sydney in 2006 and worked in private practice, then began work in the Positive Behaviour Support team at Autism Spectrum Australia in 2007. There she established a case management and behaviour support service for adolescents with autism and challenging behaviour. She went on to lead Aspect’s Behaviour Intervention Service, and the Behaviour Consultancy service. This role included provision of positive behaviour support to families and organisations, and working with children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. In 2012 she was a finalist in the NDS NSW Disability Innovation Awards for service development. She worked with Aspect until starting part-time at St Lucy’s in October 2012, then moving to full-time in March 2013 as Head of Therapy Services. This role includes management of the therapy team, as well as coordination of positive behaviour support services across the school, and provision of training and workshops to the school and wider community.
Natalie is a trained Stepping Stones Triple P presenter, and runs these workshops regularly at St Lucy’s. She is also a trained Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) presenter and Secret Agent Society practitioner.
Melissa was awarded The University Medal and First Class Honours (H1M) in Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) Honours Degree Program at the University of Sydney. She was recognised for Outstanding Academic and Clinical performance by Speech Pathology Australia, the national peak body for the speech pathology profession. Melissa’s research in the field of implementation science was also nationally identified and sponsored as the Best Implementation of Evidence-Based Care by the Australian National Stroke Foundation and the Smart Strokes Scientific Committee, and was selected for presentation internationally at the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA)’s Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, and nationally in Brisbane, Australia.
Prior to supporting St Lucy’s, Melissa was a Paediatric Speech Pathologist for NSW Health, and has served the staff and students of the school full time since May 2013. Melissa also has a unique background in the education sector, supporting the communication, learning and educational access of students from primary through to tertiary levels of education, working for the University of Sydney as part of its Disability Support Services and Academic Tutoring programs, as well as for the NSW Department of Education and Training as a Public Speaking and Debating Adjudicator for primary and high school students and teachers.
Melissa is especially trained in High-tech Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) for Complex Communication Needs (CCN), and utilises her background in implementation research to inform the implementation of signing and communication systems across the school. She is also an accredited Key Word Sign Presenter with Key Word Sign NSW, and regularly presents signing and communication workshops on behalf of St Lucy’s.
Suzie graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Applied Science: Speech Pathology in 2004. In her new graduate year she worked part time in a private practice in addition to working part time at Lady Davidson Rehabilitation Hospital. In the private practice Suzie was responsible for administrating and analysing assessments and implementing therapy programs for school aged children (2-18 years of age) with learning difficulties. These difficulties included – developmental delay, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Autism, ADHD, articulation difficulties, stuttering and expressive and receptive delay. At the hospital Suzie was responsible for administrating and analysing assessments and implementing therapy programs for adults with dysphasia, aphasia, dyspraxia, swallowing difficulties, stuttering and voice disorders.
In 2006 Suzie moved to the United Kingdom where she worked in a Special Needs school called Centre Academy as the Head of Speech Pathology for three years. Suzie was responsible for providing speech and language assessment and intervention for students aged between 6-18 with developmental delay and intellectual disability, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Autism, ADHD, emotional and behavioural difficulties, articulation difficulties, stuttering and expressive and receptive language delay. Suzie was also responsible for teacher training.
When Suzie moved back to Australia she worked for Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) for two and a half years providing a consultative Speech and Language service for people with a range of disabilities. During her time at ADHC she acted as the Senior Speech Therapist mentoring younger therapists and leading projects to help deliver a more effective service to people with a disability. Suzie has been at St Lucy’s school since March 2012.
Suzie is on maternity leave until term 4, 2016.