Did you know that approximately 5 – 8% of preschool children have language delays? These delays can continue well until adulthood and are associated with reading and writing difficulties, poorer academic performance, limited employment opportunities and difficulties with social relationships (The Hanen Centre, 2016).
Through speech pathology screenings, difficulties can be identified early on and a specific course of action may be undertaken. We chat to Jane Smart, a Melbourne-based Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist, about the ins and outs of speech pathology screenings and the importance of these for children.
Jane Smart is a paediatric speech pathologist with over 15 years experience working with preschool aged children. Jane will be conducting speech pathology screenings for the children of Fox Kids Early Learning Centre in April and May.
Firstly, what is a speech pathologist?
Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, stuttering and using voice.
Why are screenings important for children?
A speech pathology screening is a quick and inexpensive way to identify if a child is experiencing difficulties with their speech and language development.
What do the screenings involve?
The child will be seen individually during their long day care session. The speech pathologist will complete some informal observation and testing to determine if the child’s speech and language skills are within or below the level expected for the child’s age.
How long do they take?
Usually between 30 – 45 minutes.
What are you looking for in the screenings?
The screening will look at the child’s speech sound development, expressive language (talking and using sentences), receptive language (listening and understanding), social interaction and if the child is experiencing difficulties using their voice or with stuttering.
What happens if a child has been identified with difficulties?
After the screening all families will receive a summary report explaining how their child performed and feedback can be provided via email or phone. If it is identified that the child is having difficulties with their speech and language skills, a full assessment by a speech pathologist would be recommended. Following the assessment, therapy may be suggested to help the child develop their speech and language skills.
What is a Speech Pathologist? n.d., accessed 22 March 2017, Speech Pathology Australia www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au
When You Are Concerned n.d., accessed 22 March 2017 The Hanen Centre www.hanen.org