An Multidisciplinary Allied Health Approach! EmPower and Eat Speak Learn

With the recent collaboration between Empower Exercise Physiology and Eat Speak Learn Speech Pathology, we thought what better way to explain how each how these services can complement each other than to get some insight into how an Exercise Physiologist and Speech Therapist use the same item within a session!

Exercise Physiology 

Exercise and physical activity are vital for the physical, mental and social wellbeing of children and adults alike! Exercise Physiologists use evidence-based practice to help parents and their children participate in an active lifestyle. Physical literacy is an important concept in a child’s willingness and ability to engage in physical activity. Someone who is physically literate will have the skills, knowledge, behaviours and understanding necessary to lead an active lifestyle. Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) form the basis of a child’s development of physical literacy. These gross motor skills are the building blocks for more complex skills that are acquired through development that allow children to participate in sports, games, and community recreational activities as they grow.

Object control skills are those skills in which a person moves or receives an item with control and purpose. In our sessions we love to use balls to develop and master important object control skills like:

  • Rolling
  • Bouncing
  • Throwing
  • Catching
  • Kicking

Another aspect of object control skills are manipulative skills. This refers to the ability of an individual to move and control an object/ball with their feet, hands or even body! Manipulative skills are the basis of the development of sport specific skills and includes skills and activities like:

  • Dribbling a soccer ball
  • Striking with a racquet or bat
  • Shooting a basketball

We can change the difficulty of the activity by manipulating a few factors:

  • Ball size: Is a bigger ball or smaller ball easier to catch? Can you catch a
  •  smaller ball with only one hand?
  • Ball Type: what is the surface of the ball? Is it soft and squishy or rough and heavier?
  • Environment: Is the place where the activity is taking place noisy or quiet? Are there lots of people participating in the game or only a few?
  • Activity: Is the activity complex or simple? Are there a lot of rules or instructions to follow?

Speech Pathology

Using an object as simple as a ball can teach so many things to do with language, below are some language strategies that you can teach by using a ball!

Location words (prepositions) 

You can use a ball during play for location words! You can take turns in hiding the ball and getting your child to explain where it is when he/she finds it. You can also explain to your child where you found the ball that he/she hid. For example; “You hid the ball in/on/behind/in-front/under/beside/inside the table!”.

Following directions

You can use a ball to teach your child to follow directions!

  • 1 step instructions – Throw the ball to me.
  • 2 step instructions – Throw the ball to me then clap your hands.
  • 3 step instructions – Throw the ball to me, then clap your hands, then stomp your feet.
Turn taking 

You can teach your child how to take turns with a ball! For example, “It is your turn to throw me the ball, then I will throw it back to you” or “My turn… now it’s your turn”.

Joint attention 

You can teach your child joint attention strategies with a ball! Make sure your child is watching you before you throw/kick the ball to them. For example, “You have to watch me so you can catch the ball”.


You can teach your child how to request by using a ball! For examples:

  • “Do you want the ball?
  • More ball?”
  • “Throw the ball again.
Action words (verbs) 

You can teach your child action words by using a ball! These words include:

  • Throw – “Throw the ball”
  • Bounce – “Bounce the ball”
  • Catch – “Catch the ball”
  • Jump – “Jump with the ball”
  • Stop – “Stop bouncing”
  • Go – “Let’s go

If you have more than one ball you can also teach more complex concepts like comparisons by talking about how the balls are the same or different. This could include the use of other concepts such as colours, size and texture in order to compare multiple balls.

By utilising a multidisciplinary allied health approach, Exercise Physiologists and Speech Pathologists can each utilise their skills to help children develop both their gross motor skills and language! This can increase their ability to actively participate in movement-based activities with their peers and the wider community.

If you have more questions about accessing Speech Pathology services, Eat Speak and Learn are available to help. Just click here to go to their website

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