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SPHY100 Communication and Development Across the Lifespan ; SPHY200 Neuroscience Speech Pathology

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Language is a designated Range of Practice Area (RoPA) that speech pathology students are expected to demonstrate competency within in order to meet Entry Level requirements into the profession. Thus, having the capacity to manage individuals presenting with a language disorder of an acquired nature such as stroke, acquired brain injury and dementia is a key aspect of Speech Pathology practice. This unit examines the cause/s and impact/s (on the individual and their world) of having an acquired language. Additionally, students are provided with the foundational knowledge and skills associated with the evidence-based management (assessment, analysis, planning, and treatment) of individuals with an acquired language disorders. As such, this unit contributes to the development of the skills required by students under Speech Pathology Australia's Competency-based Occupational Standards (CBOS) by providing a theoretical base that ensures successful preparation for future professional practice in the area of acquired language disorders.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate knowledge of neurology, linguistics, and psycholinguistic processing to describe expressive and receptive language features in acquired language disorders (GA5, GA8);

LO2 - Interpret the assessment of neurological, linguistic and cognitive features to classify acquired expressive and receptive language disorders arising from a range of common causes (GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Plan person-centred, and culturally responsive assessment of acquired language disorders utilising the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) and best available research evidence (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO4 - Integrate knowledge of the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) and best available research evidence to plan and apply person-centred, and culturally responsive intervention for acquired language disorders (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

Background to acquired language disorders        

  • Contexts of clinical practice 
  • Working within the multidisciplinary team
  • Understanding the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) when applied to the assessment and management of acquired language disorders in adult populations
  • Social and psychological impact of acquired language disorders
  • Epidemiology of acquired language disorders 
  • Ethical and medico-legal issues in acquired language disorders 
  • Review of language as being culturally and contextually bound – how this applies to acquired language disorders

What are acquired oral and written language disorders?

  • Understanding the importance of neuroanatomy and pathology to making sense of acquired language disorders
  • Defining features of acquired oral and written language disorders 

Assessment and management of acquired oral and written language disorders across the lifespan utilizing the ICF framework

  • Evidence based assessment principles, skills and tools 
  • Practical, clinical, medicolegal and ethical considerations in screening
  • Undertaking and interpreting case history information
  • Assessing impairment by applying cognitive-neuropsychological models of language processing versus assessing functional communication
  • Undertaking and interpreting observational assessment
  • Undertaking and interpreting formal assessments
  • Assessment of cognition and its relationship to language disorder
  • Integration of assessment information and best evidence into a diagnosis and prognosis – formulating a management plan
  • Evidence based management principles, skills and tools 
  • Living with chronic language impairment (identity etc)
  • Barriers to communication
  • Understanding neurological recovery
  • Approaches to therapy
  • impairment based approaches
  • functional communication
  • total communication
  • approaches motivated by the social model of disability
  • Outcome measures in language disorders
  • Considerations in specific population groups
  • Management of communication disorders arising from dementia; traumatic brain injury; right hemisphere disorder/damage 
  • Management of acquired language disorders in multilingual populations 
  • Management of aphasia among Aboriginal Australians 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face lectures, pre-recorded online guest lectures as appropriate, and interactive face to face tutorials. Tutorials will incorporate small group, collaborative learning with students engaging in active discussion of the theoretical unit content of acquired language disorders. Case-based learning will also be utilised allowing students to better understand and explore the management process required for clients with an acquired language disorder. Case presentations parallel assessment task requirements thus ensuring pedagogical alignment between teaching, learning, and assessment. Finally, inquiry based learning will be facilitated to ensure that students develop responsibility for their learning using a constructivist approach to acquiring knowledge. This philosophy ensures the development of problem-solving and lifelong learning that is required for successful professional practice.           

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency in clinically relevant scenarios. The first assessment is designed for students to demonstrate acquisition of factual theoretical knowledge as a foundation for the final two assessment pieces. Assessment 2 and Assessment 3 are case-based tasks that require students to assimilate theoretical and professional practice knowledge in order to demonstrate emerging professional competence. Assessment 2 (Case studyreport/s) targets the Competency-based Occupational Standards (CBOS) of Unit 1: Assessment and Unit 2: Analysis and Interpretation as set out by Speech Pathology Australia. Assessment 3 (Case study simulation) targets CBOS Unit 3: Planning evidence-based speech pathology practice and Unit 4: Implementation of speech pathology practice. These two tasks combined allow students to experience and demonstrate their understanding of the typical client management process. 


Assessment 2 is weighted at 50% of the unit and Assessment 3 is weighted at 30%. The higher weighting given to these two assessments, as compared to Assessment 1 ensures that students demonstrate a clear baseline capacity to provide assessment and intervention services to individuals presenting with an acquired language disorder. Evidence of demonstrable competency and skill within these unit assessment tasks sets students on a successful path towards demonstrating entry level competency in the Range of Practice Area of language.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple choice and short answer question task/s:  

Students demonstrate acquisition of knowledge of key theoretical concepts. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Case study – Assessment report/s: Assesses 

application of theoretical concepts to interpretation of assessment data and management planning (CBOS 1 – 3). 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Case study – Treatment simulation: Assesses emerging professional competency in implementation of intervention  (CBOS 4)



GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit all assessments and obtain an aggregate mark of 50% or greater. 

Representative texts and references

Bayles, K., & Tomoeda, C. (2007). Cognitive – communication disorders of dementia. San Diego, CA: 

Plural Publishing.  

Byng, S., Pound, C., & Swinburn, K. (2002). The Aphasia Therapy File: Volume 1. Hove, UK: Psychology Press

Chapey, R. (2008). Language intervention strategies in aphasia and related neurogenic 

communication disorders (5th ed.). London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 

Elman, R. (Ed.). (2006). Group treatment of neurogenic communication disorders: the expert 

clinician’s approach (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing.

Hurtig, R., & Downey, D. (2008). Augmentative and alternative communication in acute and critical 

care settings. Plural Publishing

Kohnert, K. (2007). Language disorders in bilingual children and adults. San Diego, CA: Plural 


Martin, N., Thompson, C., & Worrall, L. (2007). Aphasia rehabilitation: The impairment and its 

consequences. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing. 

Papathanasiou, I. & Coppens, P (2017). Aphasia and related neurogenic communication disorders (2nd ed.): Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Pound, C., Parr, S., Lindsay, J., & Woolf, C. (2000). Beyond aphasia: Therapies for living with 

communication disability. London: UK: Speechmark.

Whitworth, A., Webster, J. and Howard, D (2014) A cognitive neuropsychological approach to assessment and intervention in aphasia: A clinician's guide. Hove: Psychology Press.  

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