According to the nation’s leading speech therapists, the subject as a whole is still one of great confusion and misunderstanding. These days, there are more speech and language treatment providers offering a wide variety of services up and down the UK than ever before. And what’s more, a growing contingency of parents are seeking the advice and assistance of professional speech therapists, for the sake of their respective children’s development.
But at the same time, almost every new client that comes the way of the working speech therapist has already fallen foul of a fair few misconceptions and untruths. In some instances, such myths have the potential to be rather harmful, by misleading well-meaning parents who may ultimately end up making the wrong decisions. Assumptions are never advisable when it comes to matters pertaining to health and wellbeing, but with so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult not to occasionally be led astray.
So in the interests of parents looking out for the developmental progress of their own children, here’s a quick look at five longstanding misconceptions about childhood speech therapy:
1 – Not Many Kids Need Help
First and foremost, the vast majority of parents assume that genuine speech and language development issues are comparatively rare. As such, they naturally believe that the likelihood of their own child or children developing such a problem is minimal. In reality however, while the vast majority of children will grow up free from speech and language issues, up to 9% of children will face a speech or language problem during their development. This is the kind of statistic that makes infinitely easier for parents of affected children to not only accept what’s happening, but take comfort in the fact that there are millions of other families going through exactly the same. Even more reassuringly, the overwhelming majority of childhood speech issues brought to the attention of therapists are minor, temporary and easily alleviated entirely.
2 – It’s Better to Just Wait and See
This can be a tricky one to brooch for the simple reason that every single child develops their own speech and language skills at an entirely different rate. Some progress much faster than others and some show prowess in certain areas, while requiring more time in others. As such, when an issue arises that is suspected to be a speech and language problem, some believe it better to give it time to correct itself. Of course, if the issue is inconsequential and simply a standard part of the child’s developmental process, it will indeed correct itself. However, if it turns out to be a problem that demands professional assistance, the longer it is overlooked or ignored, the more difficult it will be to address. As such, if there is even 1% of doubt or concern whatsoever with regard to speech or language development, it is important to speak to an experienced professional as quickly as possible.
3 – Speech Therapy is Too Expensive
Expense is all relative when it comes to the kinds of services that are geared toward the long-term wellbeing and healthy development of children. Nevertheless, speech and language therapy rarely tends to be anything other than highly affordable for the simple reason that your child will most likely spend very little time in meetings and appointments with the therapist. Instead, much of the treatment process (the vast majority in fact) takes place outside the office, under the instructions and guidance of the therapist. If you are only required to meet with a therapist on a weekly or fortnightly basis, it is highly unlikely to constitute an excessive expense.
4 – Most Signs and Symptoms Are Obvious
There are certain childhood speech disorders for which the signs and symptoms are somewhat obvious – certain stutters, for example. However, in a great many other instances the fact that the child is having difficulty communicating results in them presenting with certain signs and symptoms that aren’t quite as easy to spot. For example, it may be that their speech and communication issues prompt them to actively avoid speaking as much as possible, or trigger anger, upset, embarrassment or shyness when they speak. Not only do the signs and symptoms of speech and language disorders often remain hidden, but it is highly unlikely that your child will actually tell you of their difficulties.
5 – Speech Problems Are Usually Long-Term
Last but not least, it is important to remember that the prognosis for almost every childhood speech and language development issue across the board is extremely reassuring. The exact outcome, the treatment required and the respective time period will always vary in accordance with the specific condition and the uniqueness of the child in question. However, it is extremely rare for any childhood speech issue to continue into adulthood – seeking professional assistance at the earliest possible juncture being the primary key to an early resolution.