Talking does not come as naturally to some children as it does to others. In the UK, over 1 million children and young people – that’s roughly 2 – 3 in every UK classroom – have some form of long term and persistent speech, language and communication difficulty. This can affect them early, severely and for life. In areas of poverty, over 50% of children are starting school with delayed communication skills. Their speech may be unclear, vocabulary is smaller, sentences are shorter and they are able to understand only simple instructions. Many of these children can catch up with the right support.
A new term- Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) replaces other terms such as Learning Language Impairment (LLI) and Specific Language Impairment (SLI). DLD affects approximately 2 students in every classroom. We know early speech and language therapy support is so beneficial for these students. They may be the students who find it really difficult to listen within a classroom environment who may not be able to filter out sounds and pay attention to the most important ones, who have difficulty with speech, language, literacy difficulties and learning in an organised way. We know this language difficulty is often hidden and can be difficult to identify. These children may have had hearing issues with intermittent glue ear so that their early speech and language learning and listening was disorganised and they may have auditory processing difficulties. This may be helped by Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation therapy or by regular speech and language therapy which Dawn can advise you about and monitor their progress.
If you have a child with a language delay or a communication difficulty, the desire to take action and help them right away is even greater. Seeking professional help is the most important first step but you also want to know what you can do to help your child learn. The more parents know about how speech and language develops, the easier it is for them to support a child’s speech, understanding, language and communication skills.
- I will assess your child in a familiar environment either at your home or at their school whichever is more convenient.
- An initial appointment may last up to an hour usually but may take one or two sessions occasionally to get the necessary family background and developmental history and assess your child’s speech and language abilities. It may be a screening or reassessment and measurement of where the child is now if they have been seen previously. It may be a listening profile and laterality profile and parent/school questionnaire if your child is following the Johansen IAS programme with regular reassessments every couple of months.
- I will then discuss the findings and agree on how to move forward together and plan the intervention necessary for your child- how often, how many, where and when these will take place.
Therapy includes advice and homework/ worksheets, individual face to face therapy are usually delivered over six fortnightly sessions with breaks in between which are known as consolidation periods and depending on your child’s progress, the number of six fortnightly sessions that are needed can vary. Again, this will be monitored as therapy continues and regularly discussed and agreed with you. Dawn will give examples of other clients and how many sessions roughly your child may need this will give you an idea of how much money therapy will cost too.
A typical individual session would usually take place at your child’s pre-school/school setting and would include the following: Preparation for the session including printing and photocopying, 30 minutes face to face with your child (most children are unable to concentrate for more than 30 minutes at a time),on site liaison with pre-school staff/teachers, travel time, note keeping and a detailed follow up email to parents/ pre-school/school staff (if parents give consent) after each session:
- to describe what was done during the session
- progress your child has made and what works
- what to focus on at home and at pre-school/ school during the fortnight ahead
- We will liaise and support those professionals involved with your child to ensure that they are aware of what to do and how to help and to ensure a consistent approach.
Early intervention is very important to combat frustration, empower parents with strategies and provide appropriate support to your child. How do we measure confidence? Is it by the difference in that child’s facial expression- less frowning or frustration, more smiles and happiness………Is it in the amount of chatter and joining in with others compared to standing watching or playing on their own? Is it how passive they are within their school classroom compared to how much they join in? It’s all of these and more…………with formalised Speech and language assessments a baseline of scores is estabilished highlighting their speech and language ability compared to their peers so the areas your child is doing well with as well as the areas they may need improvement in- this is how specific speech and language goals are set and these scores can be compared at the end of speech and language therapy intervention.
Confidence isn’t necessarily measured but the parents and professionals who work with your child will visibly see a huge difference and see them grow in confidence within the classroom when your child is finally understanding or being understood by their peers and others!
What you can do to help your child talk and communicate
- Say your child’s name or touch them before talking to them to gain their attention first
- Think about words that are important to them and are everyday eg ‘Up’, ‘Biscuit’, ‘More’, ‘Again’ and keep repeating these as much as possible during everyday routines with Makaton signs or symbols if possible
- Give your child time to initiate or respond by keeping eye contact and waiting
- Give choices- you’d like the juice or milk?
- Observe wait and listen
- Say what your child would if they could
- Try to prompt your child by saying ‘oh-oh’ or commenting rather than questioning
- Ask ‘ What did I ask you to do?’ to see what they have understood
- Talk about what your child is looking at, using words that they would use, if they could.
- Above all, HAVE FUN! Children learn through PLAY!
What to look for
- Do people find it difficult understanding your child?
- Does your child find it difficult making certain sounds?
- Does your child struggle to follow instructions?
- Does your child find it difficult putting words together?
- Do they struggle with phonics or early literacy skills?
- Do they stammer?
- Do they find it difficult understanding what’s been said?
- Is it affecting their confidence?
- Does your child have limited speech and language for their age?
- Does your child have difficulty attending or listening?
- Has your child had numerous ear infections or glue ear episodes?
What to do next
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s communication skills then please feel free to or call me on 01452 740453 and leave a message-an initial phone-call consultation is absolutely free! Dawn will respond as soon as she is able and if an assessment is deemed necessary a session can be set up at a convenient date for all involved. Dawn is now providing Online Teletherapy to her families and children during this time at a much reduced rate please contact her if you’re interested in this.