The Central Health Group speech therapy service supports children and young people aged 2 to 18 years old who have speech, language or communication difficulties. The aim of our work is to help children and young adults develop the best possible communication skills they can.
Problems with speech and language are the most common developmental disorder of childhood, occurring in 5 to 10 percent of children. Children learn language in early childhood and later they use language to learn. Children with language disorders are at increased risk for difficulty with reading and written language. Central Health Group's view is that early intervention to improve speech, language and communication may prevent the development, or reduce the severity, of other learning difficulties.
One of the strengths of Central Health Group’s speech therapy program is that we are able to deliver a multidisciplinary approach with close communication and troubleshooting between our speech therapists, paediatricians, psychiatrist, educational psychologists, occupational therapists and counselors.
All children with speech impairment should have a complete medical evaluation and formal audiologic testing to detect medical conditions or hearing loss that may contribute to the speech impairment.
Who needs speech and language assessment?
Children with any of the criteria listed below should be referred for a speech and language assessment:
• Concern by the parent, teacher, professional, or other caregiver about the child's speech or language
• Any child who has slow speech with difficulty coordinating movements of lips, tongue, and jaw
• Any child who has difficulties sucking, chewing or swallowing, or presents with excessive drooling
• Any child with a delay in their early communications development which may include:
- No babbling by nine months
- No first words by 15 months
- No consistent words by 18 months
- No word combinations by 24 months
- Speech that is difficult for strangers to understand at 36 months
- Poor memory skills at 5 to 6 years
• Any child who is stammering or stuttering and struggling to express themselves in a flowing and natural way
• Any child who appears to be withdrawn in a group or teased by peers for "talking funny", or avoiding to talk in a variety of situations
• Any child who is frustrated and not able to explain his needs or feelings freely
• Any child who appears to have acquired vocabulary and sentence structure but does not use language appropriately in different contexts or with different people
• Any child whose language is unusual, confused or unclear, or who finds it difficult to use gesture, facial expression and eye contact when taking turns in a conversation, hence finding social aspects of language difficult to understand or express
• A child who cannot follow instructions without supplemental visual cues
• A child who has difficulties understanding the information that is read and issues organizing the information that they need to write
• A child who has difficulties reasoning, or understanding humor and ambiguity
• Any student who has difficulties with critical thinking and executive function
Our speech and language evaluation
Our evaluation has three components:
1. To determine whether impairment in communication skills exists
2. To specify the nature of any impairments
3. To discuss appropriate intervention strategies if needed
Once a treatment strategy is agreed, our speech therapist works with the individual, usually on a one-to-one basis. Equally importantly, she teaches the child's parents, helpers, teachers and teaching assistants to support and teach the child speech and language development at home and school.