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(03) 9878 2578


323 Springvale Rd, Forest Hill, Vic, 3131

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Meet our team


Dr. Michelle O'Brien

Owner and Senior Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Hello, my name is Michelle O'Brien. I am a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist, a member of Speech Pathology Australia and the owner of The Little Bookworm.

I have 25 plus years experience as a paediatric speech language pathologist, working with children and their families in early intervention (children 0-6) and with children in schools. My background includes working with children with underlying physical and/or intellectual disabilities, and also children with developmental speech and language delays and disorders, and literacy difficulties. In addition I have previously worked at La Trobe University at as lecturer and researcher.

My skills and experience are particularly in the following areas.

- Speech development and disorders (delayed speech, disordered or distorted speech, dyspraxia (difficulty with coordinating oral muscles to form speech sounds), dysarthria (difficulties with muscle tone - low tone resulting in floppy muscles, or high tone resulting in very tight muscles and the impact of muscle tone on speech);
Language development and disorders (children late to begin talking, difficulties with any aspect of spoken language development such as spoken grammar, vocabulary, narrative and conversation skills);
- Autism spectrum disorders including children from mild disorders, to children who have no speech;
- Pre-literacy skills (oral vocabulary, phonological awareness - the ability to identify words in sentences and part words (sounds and syllables) in words;
Parent/child interaction and its impact on early speech, language development, pre-literacy and literacy development; and
- Assisting parents and carers choose books and use book sharing strategies that enhance their child's interest and skills in oral language, pre-literacy and literacy.
I have skills and interests in using up to date research evidence to inform my clinical practice.
In addition to my qualifications and experience as a speech pathologist, I also am a parent and Aunty, and have the practical day to day experience of managing a household, family and career. As a consequence of this experience, I understand the importance of incorporating speech and language goals into everyday activities where possible rather than attempting to add them to an already busy day.

I have two gorgeous dogs, Audrey and Henry, who are at the clinic every day, helping children to relax, laugh and understand that even dogs can have a different agenda to theirs.


Laura Elder

Senior Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Laura works full time at The Little Bookworm as one of our senior speech pathologists (Mondays to Fridays). Previously she worked as a Paediatric Speech Language Pathologist in the UK. She moved to Melbourne in late 2018 and has been enjoying working at The Little Bookworm ever since. Laura is passionate about using evidence-based therapy approaches while ensuring therapy sessions are relaxed and fun. She strives to tailor therapy to each child's interests as best she can to keep them motivated and enthusiastic about learning.

Laura has experience working with children requiring support with a range of communication skills including speech sounds, receptive and expressive language skills, and social skills. She has a particular interest in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Laura is a member of Speech Pathology Australia. She holds a Post-Graduate Degree in Speech and Language Therapy from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh as well as an Honours degree in Linguistics and Spanish from the University of Edinburgh. She regularly attends professional development events and familiarises herself with current research in order to ensure she is up to date with current evidence which can inform her clinical practice.

Laura is a bubbly team member who loves art, indoor gardening and her adorable cat 'Beans'.


Tessa Weadman

Senior Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Tessa works 2 days/week at The Little Bookworm. (Mondays and Tuesday) She is also currently completing a part-time PhD at La Trobe University, focusing on the oral language and emergent literacy development of preschool children.

Tessa has experience working with children across a range of clinic, school and kindergarten-based settings. Her experience includes working with children requiring support with their literacy development (reading and spelling skills), receptive and expressive language skills, children with speech sound disorders, children who stutter, and developing the social skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Tessa is a member of Speech Pathology Australia. She is trained in the Lidcombe Program (therapy for preschool children who stutter), management of school-age children who stutter, Key Word Sign, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Sounds Write, SRSD, Talk For Writing and cued articulation.

She has a strong passion for working collaboratively with families to provide evidence-based therapy, whilst maintaining a fun and friendly approach.

Tessa has a friendly energetic approach which the children love! She is highly professional, yet from the children's perspective, her only job is to play with them.


Melissa Anthonisz

Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Mel works 4 days a week at The Little Bookworm. (Mon to Thurs) She has 5 years of experience working with children and adolescents with language and literacy difficulties and worked with children for years before pursuing her passion for language in speech pathology. As a former Gymnastics coach, she enjoys involving movement and fun in her sessions whenever she can.

Mel is a member of Speech Pathology Australia and holds a Masters Degree in Speech Pathology from the University of Melbourne as well as an undergraduate degree with a major in Linguistics. She has experience working with children of a range of ages in both primary and secondary school. She’s also previously had the privilege to work with members of the AFL and VFL to improve their language and literacy. You’ll recognise Mel from a mile away as being the short therapist with very bright clothing!



Sarah Kathagen

Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Sarah works at The Little Bookworm on Saturdays. Sarah has over seven years' experience as a speech pathologist in early childhood, disability and child and adolescent mental health settings. She is experienced in assessing and treating communication difficulties in a range of areas including speech, language, social communication, fluency, and phonological awareness and literacy. She has a special interest in the relationships between communication, self-regulation, behaviour and mental wellbeing in children.

Sarah's therapy is fun, flexible, and child-centred. She likes to incorporate play and creativity into sessions and tailor each session to the individual child's interests. Sarah also believes that parents are the best 'therapists' a child has and will work collaboratively with you to help you incorporate communication skills practice into your everyday routines. Sarah has undertaken training in interventions including Hanen More Than Words, Pragmatic Oriented Dynamic Display (PODD) books, the Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP) and The Zones of Regulation. She is committed to ongoing professional development and to delivering evidence-based speech pathology services.

As well as having a background as a speech pathologist, disability support worker and university tutor, Sarah is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in clinical psychology. When she isn't working or studying, Sarah enjoys gardening, hiking, craft, and doting on her two cats.

Others who work behind the scenes

We have many other people who work with us to help make The Little Bookworm run smoothly, and we are very grateful for their support. They include:

Lilla, Book keeper from La Plus
Hien and Brian, Accountants from PTAS Accounting
Frank and Mersina owners of Call the Cleaner, and Ginni, Gary and family who clean our premises each week.
Kevin and Loretta, gardeners, from K & L Spiteri Gardening & Handyman Services
Shane, handyman, from Big Handy