Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


SPHY100 Communication, Swallowing and Development Across the Lifespan AND (SPHY200 Neuroscience Speech Pathology OR ALHT210 Neuroscience for Allied Health )

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Working with individuals presenting with a language disorder of an acquired nature (e.g., following a stroke) and dementia is a key aspect of Speech Pathology practice. Consequently, language is a designated practice area in which speech pathology students are expected to demonstrate competency in order to meet professional Entry Level requirements.

This unit examines the cause/s of acquired language disorders and impact/s of such disorders on the individual and their world. Students are provided with the foundational knowledge and skills associated with the evidence-based management (assessment, analysis, planning, and intervention) of individuals with an acquired language disorder.

Additionally, this unit contains a learning outcome from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014) specifically addressing the HCF cultural capability- Clinical presentations.

The aim of this unit is to provide a theoretical base and opportunities for applying knowledge in practical activities, to ensure 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 identify appropriate methods to evaluate language skills in adults and describe expressive and receptive language features in acquired language disorders (GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Analyse and interpret assessment information to accurately diagnose acquired language disorders (GA5, GA8)

LO3 - 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)

LO4 - HCF 9.1* Identify issues in diagnosing, treating and preventing disease and illness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients (GA4, GA5, GA8)


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
  • Living with chronic language impairment (identity etc)
  • 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 language disorders?

  • Understanding the importance of neuroanatomy and pathology to making sense of acquired language disorders
  • Understanding the links between language and cognition
  • Defining features of acquired language disorders 

Assessment and management of acquired 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
  • Assessing alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) needs
  • 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
  • Considerations when working with First Nations Peoples
  • Considerations when working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations 
  • Evidence based management principles, skills and tools 
  • Living with chronic language impairment (identity etc.)
  • Barriers to communication
  • Understanding neurological recovery
  • Approaches to intervention
  • impairment based approaches
  • functional communication
  • total communication and alternative and augmentative communication strategies (including communication partner training)
  • approaches motivated by the social model of disability
  • Outcome measures in language disorders
  • Considerations when working with First Nations Peoples
  • Considerations when working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations 
  • Management of communication disorders arising from dementia; traumatic brain injury; right hemisphere disorder/damage 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of asynchronous learning, including pre-recorded online lectures, and interactive face to face tutorials and/or practicals. Tutorials and/or practicals 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 require students to assimilate theoretical and professional practice knowledge in order to demonstrate emerging professional competence. Assessment 2 (Analysis and Interpretation Task) targets assessment, analysis, and interpretation of speech pathology practice. Assessment 3 (Intervention Simulation) targets management planning and 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 40% of the unit and Assessment 3 is weighted at 40%. The higher weighting given to these two assessments, as compared with 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 acquired language practice area.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Multiple choice and short answer question task/s 

Students demonstrate acquisition of knowledge of key theoretical concepts. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4


1.2; 2.1-2.3, 3.1-3.2, 4.3, 4.5


Units 1 and 3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment 2: Analysis and Interpretation Task

Assesses application of theoretical concepts to analysis and interpretation of assessment data.


LO1, LO2


1.1-1.2, 2.1-



Units 1 and 4

GA5, GA8

Assessment 3: Intervention Simulation

Assesses emerging professional competency in planning and implementation of intervention.


LO3, LO4


3.1, 3.4-3.7;

4.1-4.3, 4.5;



Units 1-4

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., McKullough, K., & Tomoeda, C. (2020). Communication disorders of MCI and dementia: Definition, assessment and clinical management. Plural Publishing.  

Hegde, M. N. (2022). A coursebook on aphasia and other neurogenic language disorders (5th ed.). Plural Publishing Inc.

Kimbarow, M.L. (2021). Cognitive communication disorders (3rd ed.). Plural Publishing, Inc.

Klein E. R., & Mancinelli, J. M. (2021). Acquired language disorders : A case-based approach (3rd ed.). Plural Publishing, Inc.

Kohnert, K., Danahy, E., & Pham, G. T. (2020). Language disorders in bilingual children and adults (3rd ed.). Plural Publishing.

Murray, L.L. & Clark, H.M. (2015). Neurogenic disorders of language and cognition. Evidence-based clinical practice. Theory Driven Clinical Practice. (2nd Ed). Pro-Ed.

Papathanasiou, I. & Coppens, P (2021). Aphasia and related neurogenic communication disorders (3rd ed.) Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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

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