Speech and language therapists (SLTs) use child-centred, play based activities to assess and treat communication difficulties (as well as feeding difficulties), a toddler or child may present with. As communication skills are crucial for intellectual, educational, social and emotional development, Speech and Language Therapists work with children and young people who have problems with:
- Understanding, processing and following spoken language (receptive language),
- Using age appropriate vocabulary and sentence formulation skills to relay stories (expressive language skills),
- Using language appropriately to engage socially (pragmatic skills),
- Pronouncing sounds and words correctly,
- The development of phonological awareness and emergent literacy skills (i.e. the skills that underlie the early development of reading and writing skills).
Speech and Language Therapists work in close partnership with the child and their family and other healthcare professionals. Together they have a shared responsibility for meeting children’s needs.
When should I visit a Speech and Language Therapist?
If you see that your child is not meeting their developmental milestones, if he/she has difficulty or is frustrated at being unable to explain what he/she wants, or people don’t understand your child when he/she is talking, it’s always recommended to seek the help of a Speech and Language Therapist as soon as possible. Very often a parent’s instincts are correct so if you feel your child may need speech therapy, contact a professional in your area as soon as possible.
What to look out for
If the child does not engage in reciprocal communication-interaction from an early age
Look out for signs that your child is not meeting developmental milestones and falling far behind in terms of achieving the expected milestones.
If the child has difficulty or is frustrated at being unable to explain what he/she wants
If there is a regression in communication skills (e.g. the child stops using certain words that he/she previously used with ease)
If people in the child’s daily environment has difficulty understanding what he/she is saying.