I often wonder what it is that triggers parents to make the decision to bring their child to a speech pathologist. So many parents are under the impression with talking, that it is better to ‘wait and see’ if they catch up or let them develop ‘at their own pace’. I wonder if this ‘wait and see’ approach would apply if the child was not walking at 2 years of age or was not toilet trained by 4?
As speech pathologists we know that the best thing to do if you are concerned about your child’s speech or language skills is to ‘address it today and not to delay’. In fact, the timing of visiting a speech pathologist is actually crucial.
Research shows that from birth to 5 years, children learn language through back-and-forth interactions with their parents. The less a child speaks or the less intelligible they are, the less these interactions occur. Check out the full article written by the Hanen Organisation about ‘Why it is important to start early’.
However, I am as guilty as the next parent at putting my head in the sand and hoping things will just work out. So for argument’s sake, I have put together the top 3 reasons ‘for’ and ‘against’ taking your child to see a speech language pathologist.
Reason #1: Time
When your life has become a series of multitasks and going to the toilet is no longer a ‘solo mission’, it is no wonder that ‘time’ is the number one reason parents don’t take their child to see a speech pathologist or any professional for that matter. We hear you loud and clear!
But on the flipside, early intervention for speech pathology is by far the most effective which would result in less time spent visiting a speech pathologist in the long term.
It is also important to remember that speech and language skills impact and help to shape behaviour, social skills and literacy all of which may require time, effort or professional support in the future. If you are at all concerned and need to find a Speech Pathologist go to Speech Pathology Australia’s ‘Find a Speech Pathologist Search’.
Reason #2: Money
Most families are on one salary and trying to juggle mortgage repayments, childcare bills and support their newfound coffee addition. So we vote money as the number 2 reason for families not to call a ‘Speechie!’ Here’s a money saving tip:
Individuals may be eligible to receive Medicare rebates of up to five speech pathology sessions/year with a speech pathologist registered with Medicare and Speech Pathology Australia.
All you need to do is visit your General Practitioner (GP) who will determine if Speech Pathology is an appropriate referral and if you are eligible under the Chronic and Complex Health Care Plan (formerly known as the Enhanced Primary Health Care Plan). Find out more information here.
Reason #3: Stigma
Sadly, there is a stigma surrounding children and people with speech, language and communication difficulties. While for some parents, their child’s communication difficulties are a part of a disability, stigma is something they are faced with every day. However, for the majority of parents, their child’s speech and language difficulties are an isolated difficulty that has no bearing on intelligence, socio-economic background or environment.
The good news is that if we take our children to see a speech pathologist in their younger years, they will be less likely to experience stigma from their peers by the time they reach school age.
So briefly, when to be concerned…
1. When an 18 month old isn’t communicating and is not starting to use words;
2. When a 2 year old has less than 50 words or is not putting words together;
3. or when a child is 4 and their speech is still difficult to understand.
Dr Elise Baker, Speech Language Pathologist, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney
As you can see, there are many good reasons NOT to take your child to a speech pathologist but the benefits far outweigh the negatives if we seek professional advice EARLY. Don’t delay, Address it Today! Eat the frog!
Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies xx