I had a friend ask me the other week whether speech therapy was worth the time and money or should you just wait and see if they grow out of it. It was an honest question and I appreciated his forthright approach. In response to that I want to share a few little known facts:
1. Economics: Speech therapy for specific language impairment in children yeilds 6.64 times the lifetime value for every unit of investment. So that means for every $1 spent on speech therapy there will be $6.64 worth of value produced by that investment. These results are based on the RCSLT analysis of cost benefit for >170,000 children. Available here:
RCSLT Cost Benefit Analysis
2. Emotional/Social/Mental Health: In later life children with unresolved language difficulties show a paucity of friendships, fewer intimate relationships and poorer social adaptation than their normally developing peers. Plus they are more than twice as likely to develop serious mental health problems.
3. Numerous studies have demonstrated that intervention for speech and language difficulties is more effective and more cost effective than a “wait and see approach” (for example BUSCHMANN, A., JOOSS, B., RUPP, A., FELDHUSEN, F., PIETZ, J. & PHILIPPI, H. 2009. Parent based language intervention for 2-year-old children with specific expressive language delay: a randomised controlled trial. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 94, 110-116.)
Further to this scientific evidence are the examples we frequently see in the clinic. For example, in the same week we had a one year old with feeding difficulties (who now has a treatment plan in place and is progressing well) compared with a six year old who presented in the same week who had shown early difficulties who now eats only 3 foods consistently (he also now has a treatment plan in place and will progress but it will be quite slow). If we had seen that little fellow at age one we would not be needing to try and help him “unlearn” six years of NOT eating and the associated stress and anxiety he has developed in response to mealtimes.
Clearly early intervention for speech, language, literacy and feeding difficulties is not actually an expense but in fact an investment. It’s worth every cent and every minute.
One word of caution though is that you need to be committed. If you are not fully committed to the therapy process your child is unlikely to achieve optimal outcomes. Sometimes it’s just not the right time for therapy due to other family priorities (and we understand that) BUT if you want the best possible outcome for your child, and are committed to achieving that, then the best time to seek help is as soon as you are potentially concerned. We are always happy to provide advice over the phone if you are unsure if an assessment is required. Call our friendly Toowoomba speech therapy team on 1300 66 1945.