Helping children overcome speaking difficulties

Helping children overcome speaking difficulties

This week we celebrate Speech Pathology Week which seeks to promote the speech pathology profession and the work done by speech pathologists with the 1.2 million Australians who have a communication disability.
 
Mater Children's Private Brisbane Speech Pathologists Jessica Kennedy and Victoria Behree said when it comes to helping children improve their speech, early intervention is best. 
 
"We can see a range of children, usually around the 18-month mark if there are concerns about their speech development and occasionally we see them even younger if the child has a recognised disability," Victoria said. 
 
"Obviously you can't sit a toddler down and have a one on one discussion, but we do observation through play as language is linked with play. We take notes from parents as to what is happening at home, what their concerns are. We observe the child’s skills, speech sounds, language and pragmatic engagement.
 
“The team seek to recognise the speech issues the child is having and create a management plan to help them for the future. Some children will only need a short intervention to set them up but others especially those with a recognised disability will need ongoing treatment." 
 
Jessica explains the ethos of the paediatric Speech Pathology team is "what you say has value" as they try to teach children their voices matter and the importance of speaking for themselves. 
 
“For children who will have a lifelong disability the team is focused on promoting function and helping the child develop independent forms of communication, so they can participate in society and advocate for themselves,” Jessica said.
 
"We can see children with a range of issues, some children may know the words but be unable to vocalise them. Our goal with these children is to help them speak so others may understand them.
 
“Our team uses a range of tools from new programs on iPads, speaking books and toys to help children communicate and develop.” 
 
For parents who are concerned about their children’s speech the team would recommend visiting the Speech Pathology Australia website where you can access milestone cards to give you an indication of your child’s development. 
 
Jessica says it’s important to always trust your instinct and if you think there may be a problem with your child’s speech it’s best to see someone early and be told that everything is fine rather than wait too long. 
 
“Here at the Mater Health and Wellness parent’s do not need a referral to see a Speech Pathologist, they may just call up and make an appointment with us,” Jessica said. 
 
“The team are also able to help with a number of speaking and communication issues with children of all ages including fluency problems such as stuttering, autism services, feeding, swallowing, literacy and more. 
 
“We are also involved with children from Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit, following up with premature babies and those coming off feeding tubes.” 
 
For more information about the Mater Health and Wellness Speech Pathology Services please call,
07 3163 6000 or visit the website here.
 

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