What is a speech and language therapist and how can they help your child? As a child develops there is an expectation that they will reach certain milestones in their development. This includes their speech, language and communication skills.
Sometimes, children can take longer to meet these milestones, often requiring a little extra time but sometimes they need some support. It is important to remember that no child’s communication journey will be the same, every child takes a different speed.
However, if a child is struggling on their communication journey a speech and language therapist (SLT) is there to help.
Who do we work with?
A SLT is focused on communication and all the different aspects associated with communication. From speech skills to language skills, comprehension skills, attention skills, eating and drinking skills, social skills and fluency skills. The list goes on and on, many people assume our role is similar to that seen in ‘The King’s Speech’. Focusing on a stutter or working on the pronunciation of a sound. However, a SLT works with children as young as two years old and with varying difficulties.
SLT’s work with children with a range of diagnoses such as:
• Speech and language delay
• Developmental language disorder (DLD)
• Speech disorders
• Autistic spectrum disorders
• Disfluency (stuttering/stammering)
• Cleft lip and palate
• Learning difficulties
• Developmental delay
• Down Syndrome
• Social communication delay
• Comprehension delay
• Attention and listening delay
• Swallowing conditions.
Why is a speech and language therapist just playing with my child?
Children learn best when they do not realise they are learning. Play provides vast opportunities for communication, whether that communication is expressed through eye gaze, gesture or talking. Play allows a child to explore the world around them, to share attention with you and to engage. So, whilst it may look as though a SLT is just playing with your child, every toy and activity will be encouraging and developing your child’s communication skills.
I have concerns about my child’s communication skills, should I just wait and see?
Often as a parent, we can become concerned about our child’s abilities. Naturally, we begin to compare them to other children. We can go back and forth with concerns around whether we should seek help or whether we should wait and see. Early intervention is key with communication difficulties – the longer a difficulty is left the harder it can be to resolve and the greater the impact on a child’s overall communication abilities. Diagnosing a delay or condition early can drastically improve the outcome of a child’s communication journey.
If you are concerned about your child’s communication skills, have a chat with a SLT. Most independent practitioners will offer a free phone call to discuss any concerns you have and offer advice.
What should I expect from my first speech and language therapy session?
Usually, the initial session is an assessment session. This is often an informal chat with the parents, finding out your concerns, your child’s developmental history and gaining insight into your child’s interests. Then, the SLT will play with your child, informally assessing their abilities holistically. A child is very unlikely to know it is an assessment – my initial assessment checklist includes bubbles, animals, a pop-up pirate and trains!
If you have any concerns about your child’s communication, no matter how small, don’t delay in contacting a SLT. Everyone deserves the right to communication. We can talk about your concerns and offer you tailored advice and plan the next steps in supporting you and your child. The longer a concern is left, the harder it is to resolve. So contact your local SLT today!
Help Me to Talk provide engaging sessions at home, nursery, school and virtually to families across Surrey. For children as young as two years old. Get in touch today! www.helpmetotalk.co.uk 07799 677262