Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Does my child need speech therapy?

One of every mother’s concerns is whether their child is meeting their developmental milestones. We often compare our child to their peers or siblings, especially around communication milestones.

If you are like me, you may often lie awake at night with thoughts running through your head about your children.

  • Did they have a good week and have fun with their friends?
  • Are they achieving all the milestones they should be for their age?
  • Have I read enough with them today?
  • Am I doing a good job?
  • Was there any nutritional value in those chicken nuggets they had for dinner tonight?

As Elizabeth Stone once said, ?Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Arming yourself with the knowledge of typical communication milestones is important, so that you can identify any issues early on and seek help if appropriate. It will also help reduce any anxiety and concern you may feel.

Communication issues are common in children. In fact, 1 in 5 children have some form of communication disorder. The ability to communicate well can impact different facets of a child?s life including their social connections, literacy and numeracy development, and their behaviour. Those head-thrown-back screaming tantrums, or the toy snatching and hitting could all possibly be related to an inability to communicate.

So, how can you tell if your child needs some support with a service such as speech therapy? Listed below are some pre-school age milestones:

  • At three years old, an average child can:
    • Talk without just repeating what you say
    • Be understood almost all of the time
    • Use different types of words correctly
    • Give their first name
    • Follow three-step instructions
  • At four years old, an average child can:
    • Hold conversations
    • Tell stories in past and future sense
    • Repeat back a sentence of 10 sounds
    • Be easily understood by strangers

Often it will be a pre-school or day-care teacher who may raise some concerns. Don?t worry if you didn?t identify an issue ? this is exactly what early childhood educators are trained to look out for. They may be validating some concerns you have. I know that when I had some concerns about my three year old?s speech it was good to have validation from his day-care teachers as then I could work out a plan of action.

If this happens, take the time to meet with them to understand exactly what they see. You can then either seek out a speech therapist or see your early childhood nurse or GP if needed.

If your child does need therapy, then finding the right therapist that connects with them is so important. I had a great experience with an amazing therapist that my son loved and we made huge progress. It was her understanding of his needs and us working together that was the key.

There are many organisations, such as Umbo, that match therapists with each individual child based on their needs as well as their interests. When looking for a speech therapist, make sure to ask whether they take a people-centred and individual approach to each child, or whether it?s a stock- standard process for everyone. You want the former so your child has a tailored experience based on their own needs, interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. As we all know, no two children are the same ? and their health care treatments shouldn?t be either.

About Francesca Pinzone

Francesca Pinzone is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of online allied health services provider, Umbo. She is passionate about bringing health services to children in rural communities and removing social inequalities. She has a MA in International Public Health from the University of Sydney, a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact from the University of NSW, and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Francesca has over 12 years of experience working in non-profit organisations and in international development, having previously worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres?in Pakistan,?UNICEF?in India and?CanTeen in Australia, and also currently teaches Creating Social Change: From Innovation to Impact at UNSW Sydney with the?Centre for Social Impact.

She is also a mother of a child who has received speech therapy.