It is important to remember that when it comes to speech, language, and communication issues, urgency is a key factor. Identifying potential issues as early as possible as your child develops is crucial to obtaining proper and effective treatment. As stated in the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists( now Speech-Language and Audiology Canada) Position Paper on Early Identification of Speech & Language Disorders:
“Early detection leads to early intervention. Without early identification programs, followed by integral early intervention programs, children with speech language problems could have poorer adult outcomes, resulting in familial and societal stress (Hertzman, 2000). Fortunately, difficulties in speech and language learning in the early years can be ameliorated, or in some cases prevented, if they are efficiently identified (Hertzman, 2000; Hertzman 2010)”.
In Ontario, therapy for young preschoolers is often associated with long wait lists. However, identifying and treating speech and language disorders at a young age is crucial. At the Speech Therapy Centres of Canada, it is not uncommon to see children as young as 18 months – 2years. In very young children (of preschool age and under), speech and language issues can sometimes be particularly difficult to identify since they can be quite subtle.
Speech language pathologists are trained to notice subtle issues related to speech and language development that may need attention, e.g. difficulty with eye contact and age-appropriate listening skills. We also have the ability to examine pre-literacy skills, an important aspect of overall communication ability. The role of the parent(s) in this case is extremely important in monitoring the progress of their child and seeking help as early as possible if any issues present themselves.
As a parent, what can you do?
Given this situation, and with the waiting lists in the public sector for speech and language assessments and therapy getting longer and longer, parents are becoming aware of the fact that they need to consider seeking help for their children on their own. In response to this trend, the demand for private speech therapy is steadily increasing as parents refuse to wait for government-funded programs.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, seeking help from a speech–language pathologist (commonly referred to as a speech therapist) early is the key to getting the most effective results from treatment. Contact Speech Therapy Centres of Canada today for more information on how we can help.
Hertzman C. (2000). The Case for an Early Childhood Development Strategy. Canadian Journal of Policy Research, 1, 11-18.