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What can I do to help my child to develop good speaking skills?
Always give your child good speaking models (correct speech sounds and sentence grammar) and take time to listen and respond. As a parent you have the best opportunity to develop good speech and language by using everyday activities to engage your child in conversations. Whenever possible (at the dinner table, in the car, and whilst playing) ask your child questions that gives your child the chance to express their views and thoughts. You can provide good models, an occasional correction and sometimes a chance to encourage your child to imitate what you have said, BUT don’t do this every time your child speaks, as this may create some frustration!
How can I help my child understand what I am saying?
Make sure that your talking is clear and easily understood. Try not to speak too quickly and keep your content simple and to the point. When giving instructions, check back with your child to make sure that they have understood and remembered what you have said – and if there are mis-understandings, this is the time to provide any corrections.
What if my child is having difficulty in producing correct sounds and /or sentences?
Remember that during the early years, speech and language go through
and mistakes and errors are to be expected! If your child’s speech or language does not seem to improve over time or you are unsure if your child’s speech and language is age appropriate, talk to your GP, Maternal and Child Health sister or trusted teacher. If you are still unsure seek advice from a Speech Pathologist.
My child seems to stutter –when should I seek help?
Stuttering is a disorder that does need to be dealt with quickly! However, it is common for some young children (between the ages of 1-4 years) to go through a stage of ‘normal dysfluency’ (talking is not fluent). This typically takes the form of word and phrase repetition (e.g. “mum mum can I go out to play”) and usually the child does NOT show signs of awareness or concern. This is different to a stuttering problem when sounds or parts of words are repeated (e.g. “mu mu mu mum can I go out and pl pl pl play”). Other stuttering behaviours include lengthening of a sound, blocking of sounds or alterations in facial expressions as well as expressions of concern from the child. Should your child demonstrate these behaviours then you should seek advice from a Speech Pathologist.
Will my child’s speech/language get better as they get older?
As mentioned earlier speech and language skills develop over time and go through various stages. Some children progress through these stages quickly and others more slowly. However, for some children progress through the
very slow and for some children assistance and specific intervention is required. If you note that your child has difficulties in communicating with others or is anxious and wanting to withdraw from interactions and communication it is time to seek some assistance.
Does difficulty with speaking and listening lead to problems with reading and writing
The answer is ‘yes!’ Speech and language skills are one of the vital foundation skills of later academic abilities such as reading and writing. Children who have delays in oral language development often exhibit problems in acquiring reading and writing skills in addition to issues such as concentrating, listening and behavioural problems. School aged children who have been identified as being below grade level expectations in literacy and numeracy should have a speech and language assessment to see if oral language is contributing to the problem.
When should I consult a speech-language pathologist?
You should seek advice from a speech-language pathologist when you are concerned about the progress of your child’s speech and language skills. If you have a concern and have tried some of the strategies listed above and have seen no real change, then it is time to act!!
What happens if my child is diagnosed with a speech/language problem?
Following the assessment session, the speech pathologist will analyse the test results and then make some decisions regarding next steps. In some cases this will include the recommendation to commence a period of therapy, in other situations this will mean the recommendation for additional assessments by other appropriate health professionals. At times, successful outcomes from therapy will require ongoing liaison with other professionals such as teachers and other health professionals to ensure a consistent plan of action. In any case, all of the possible steps and recommendations will be discussed with you fully at the ‘feedback’ session.
Will I be required to attend the therapy sessions?
Absolutely!! Your presence and participation in the therapy sessions is vital to progress and successful outcomes. There will also be an expectation that you perform home-practice tasks in between therapy sessions. It is only with participation from parents/guardians etc and regular practice that speech therapy can be effective!!
Do I need a referral?
No you do not, but many people come with referrals from doctors, paediatricians, maternal and child health nurse, teachers etc
How much does it cost?
Initial assessments can take up to 90minutes and in addition include a written report and a feedback session – the cost will be discussed when you make your first appointment. Therapy sessions also vary in cost depending on the length of time for each session. The frequency of sessions can range from weekly to monthly sessions and this will depend upon the type of problem and the rate of progress.
Can I get a rebate from Medicare, Private Health Insurance, Government departments?
Yes, some families can access assistance with cost from the government depending on the difficulty exhibited by the child. Private health insurers often provide a rebate for speech therapy services and because each one is different you will need to contact your private insurance health provider to gain details.
Is there a cancellation fee
A cancellation fee of 50% (of a session fee) will be charged if the appointment is NOT cancelled by end of the previous day.