Noosa District Speech Pathologist Alex Wilbers is noticing improvements with Rachel Thompson after helping her with communication and speech difficulties.
Noosa District Speech Pathologist Alex Wilbers is noticing improvements with Rachel Thompson after helping her with communication and speech difficulties. Geoff Potter

Rachel's story says volumes

THERE'S something about 20-year-old Rachel Thompson's engaging manner and personality that speaks volumes about getting the most out of life.

Rachel's has her hands full balancing bowling, dancing, music and drama as well shopping and hanging out with family - especially her dog Bree Anna.

But like many of the one in seven people, who have to deal with a speech problem, life is not so much about taking things one step at a time - as it is communicating carefully and deliberately one word after the other.

But her message is loud and clear - with the guidance and support of her friends and work colleagues at the Noosa Speech Pathology in Noosa Junction - life can be as rich and rewarding.

During Speech Pathology Week, Rachel is speaking out as part of the theme - Tell Your Story.

Rachel has global development delay that makes it difficult for her to understand and process what is being said to her, but thanks to her dedicated speech pathologist Alex Wilbers, her future sounds positively upbeat.

"First I came here (to Noosa Speech Pathology) - we practised talking a bit more clearly," Rachel said.

"We talk about 'one word at a time' and when we talk together we are face to face. I am learning to read.

"Speech pathologists help kids to talk clearly and read," she said.

Alex said initially they worked on improving Rachel's vocabulary and sentence structure so that she could understand more of what people were saying to her.

This has enabled her to express her ideas and feelings more easily to others.

"We also worked on asking and answering questions, as well as understanding concepts so that it was easier for her to follow instructions and lessons at school," Alex said.

Growing up with people not always gracious about Rachel's communication limitations has often been challenging.

"It's a little bit frustrating," Rachel said.

Alex said: "I think Rachel should be admired as a person whose happy outlook and sense of humour enable her to overcome hurdles in everyday life," Alex said.

Alex said one of Rachel's strengths is her eagerness to socialise with others and this had led to her learning to "start, maintain and end conversations with different people in different environments".

It is the sort of skill most people take for granted, but Rachel constantly has to work on.

Overcoming such obstacles means Rachel is determined to be good at her work duty list which she happily reads off: "Post office, vacuuming, wash up, scanning, wipe the tables, bins, greeting all the other people that come here, make tea, make coffee and water."

Anyone wanting to find out find out more about communication difficulties as part of a development delay such as Rachel's, log on to speechpathologyaustralia.org.au.


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