Helping with speech and language problems
Firstly, don’t let concerns plague you - if you, or your child's doctor, think that your child has a problem, get an evaluation done by a speech pathologist as soon as possible. If it turns out that there’s nothing wrong at all, then you can happily cross this off your worry list and move on to something new!
A speech pathologist can advise, diagnose and work with people of all ages who have communication disabilities. And while you can find a speech pathologist on your own, it’s best to speak to either your GP or your local baby health clinic to ask for a recommendation and a referral. Most public children’s hospitals also have a speech pathology department, where you can take your child for assessment – and therapy if it’s needed – but the waiting lists for these out-patient services can be often be long, and the sooner you address potential speech and language problems, the better.
The speech pathologist will look at your child's speech and language skills as a part of her overall development and then specifically asses:
- Your child’s receptive language – what she understands
- Your child’s expressive language – what she can say
- The other methods your child uses to communicate – gesturing, facial expressions
- Your child’s mouth, tongue, palate and throat – if there is a physical problem it could be affecting your child’s ability to make sounds
What can I do to help my child with a speech or language problem?
If the speech pathologist finds that your child does need speech therapy, your involvement in supporting and supplementing the therapy will be very important. You can observe therapy sessions and learn to participate in the process. The speech therapist will also show you how you can work with your child at home to improve his speech and language skills.
Whatever your child's age, recognizing and treating problems early on is the best approach to help with speech and language delays. With proper therapy and time, your child will likely catch up and be better able to communicate with you and the rest of the world.
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