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What are speech and language difficulties?

Speech and language difficulties are those that affect a child’s communication skills.

These may include:

  • Articulation difficulties such as a lisp

  • Difficulties with speech fluency, such as stammering  

  • Difficulties with language development, including reduced vocabulary, word-finding and understanding of spoken language 

  • Weak social communication and social problem solving, such as difficulties with understanding social situations, body language (for example eye contact), maintaining topic of conversation, understanding the perspective of others and resolving social conflicts effectively.   


What is speech and language therapy?

Paediatric speech and language therapy focuses on helping children to communicate effectively. Communication skills are important for academic success in school and social development. As such, children who find it difficult to develop these skills benefit from speech and language therapy. Paediatric speech and language therapy is holistic, meaning that the whole child is considered when planning therapy. For example, taking into consideration your child’s interests to make therapy fun and engaging.


What is a speech and language therapist?

Paediatric speech and language therapists are allied health professionals that specialise in working with children and have advanced knowledge of child development and communicate skills. Speech and language therapists work directly with clients and their parents and caregivers and provide them with tailored support. They also work closely with teachers and other health professionals.


How do I know if my child needs speech and language therapy?

A child may be referred for a speech and language therapy assessment to assess skills that the child is observed to be finding challenging in the classroom (e.g. difficulty following instructions). A healthcare professional may also refer a child for speech and language therapy to further assess their development in certain areas (e.g. speech sound development). Parents may also observe their child experiencing difficulties with mastering certain age-appropriate communication milestones. A full speech and language assessment will be able to indicate whether your child requires therapy.  We encourage parents to contact a therapist at Thumbs Up Therapy if you suspect that your child may benefit from speech and language therapy. 


What is a speech and language therapy assessment? 

A speech and language therapy assessment helps therapists to gain insight into a child’s speech, language and communication skills. Assessment consists of a parent consultation to learn about their concerns and gain a developmental history, followed by a comprehensive assessment with the child to measure their strengths and areas of need. The assessment will consider the different areas of communication, including expressive language (use of language), receptive language (understanding), speech sounds and pragmatics (social use of language).


How does speech and language therapy help my child?

The aim of speech and language therapy is to address communication difficulties that a child is experiencing. We do this by prioritising goals according to developmental milestones and communication demands. The overall aim is to support a child communicate as effectively as possible. For example, a therapist may identify language concepts that a child has not yet acquired and work on these through fun, motivating activities to engage the child.


Do speech and language disorders affect learning?

In some cases, speech and language difficulties may affect learning. Speech and language skills are essential to academic success and learning as language is the basis of communication. If a child has difficulty with understanding language, this may affect the child’s ability to access the curriculum in school. For example, if specific concepts are used in maths, a child with language difficulties may find understanding these maths problems difficult. A child may also have difficulties with reading and spelling if they have a speech sound disorder. Poorly developed social understanding may affect academic tasks that require flexible abstract thinking, for example, writing stories from another’s perspective. 


How does speech and language therapy help me (as a parent)?

Speech and language therapy can help you to understand the nature of the disorder or difficulty that your child is experiencing. A speech and language therapist will provide you with strategies that you can implement to support your child’s development at home and in environments outside therapy. At Thumbs Up Therapy, our therapists actively communicate with parents and caregivers to provide education, advice and open discussion about your child’s development. 

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