Speech pathology services have become very common and almost every family knows of or has a child receiving speech therapy. I sometimes even hear of teachers referring 10 or more children from just one class for various reasons! When we talk about speech pathology (aka speech therapy), most people think of pronunciation, stutters and lisps but the scope of practice of a speech pathologist is very wide and covers other skills such as vocabulary, comprehension, social skills, voice, swallowing, reading, spelling and conversation (and they work with adults too).
When should my kid see a Speech Pathologist?
It is difficult for mummies to make decisions about going to a speech pathologist because there are so many things to think about – cost, necessity, time etc. It is important for parents to be able to make a decision about whether they need to see a speech pathologist with the right information. To make this decision, I ask two questions:
- Do you have concerns about their speech or language that are significantly affecting their ability to participate in every day activities? (i.e. making friends, asking for help, playing with others, reading books)
- Are your child’s skills significantly delayed for their age and causing frustration, low self-esteem, errors in reading and writing?
If you are in doubt, it is recommended that you speak to your GP, child health nurse, pediatrician or school teacher to help you make this decision.
But I’m not concerned, they talk all the time at home!
Speech pathologists hear this all the time and it makes complete sense! Mummies spend the most time out of everyone with their kids and so they understand everything that they say and pick up on subtle differences in body language and behaviour without realising it. Suddenly when kids go to school or daycare, they are thrown into a different environment where they have to have adequate speech and language skills to be able to make friends and have fun.
If the teacher lets you know that they think your child needs speech pathology, the best advice (straight from the speechie’s mouth) is to ask for examples. This way you can begin to look for signs to help you understand why the teacher has made the referral.
I feel guilty, I should have been a better mummy
It is difficult to hear that your child’s skills are not the same as other kids their age, and automatically mummies blame themselves for this. You are probably thinking right back to their birth and what you could have done differently. In reality, your kids have probably read books, sang songs, spent time with family, and you’ve chatted with them every day – this means you have been a fantastic mummy! Generally speech pathologists don’t know the reasons why each speech and language concern occurs, and will not dwell in the past, but instead give you strategies and ideas that specifically work to help your child move forward.
What can I do while I am on the waiting list?
Many speech pathology services now have waiting lists and these can range anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years in length. This is a stressful time for mummies, especially if you are eager to get it sorted! Two great tips for mummies with kids on speech pathology waiting lists include:
- Consider the expected skills required of your child at their age to identify any areas that could be improved (use the charts at http://www.thespeel.com).
- Knowing the areas for improvement, add language to every part of your child’s day.
Hi, I’m Alex and I’m an Australian Speech Pathologist. I have worked with kids of ages 1-17 and I love seeing the smile on their face when they achieve their goals. I recently wrote a book called “52 Fun Activities for Speech and Language” which will give you ideas for activities you can do on the school holidays, whilst on a waiting list, or just generally to develop your child’s skills. 52 fun activities for speech and language
Do you have concerns about your child’s speech and language skills? Ask me anything
Writer at www.thespeel.com
Alex Trichilo is an Australian Speech Pathologist with a passion for giving all children the communication skills to be able to successfully live their life. She blogs to spread her messages to a wider audience and to empower parents to give their children the foundational skills of speech and language. She also loves eating amazing food, travelling with her husband, and spending time with her family.