Impacts of Speech and Language Difficulties

The impacts of speech, language and communication difficulties in childhood are significant and potentially lasting. Speech therapy might not be able to prevent these impacts for all children but we can minimise them as much as possible by giving children the support and skills they need. The type and amount of impact for each child varies depending on the type and severity of their difficulties, their environment and their personality. It is also influenced by how early, how much and how good their speech therapy and other interventions are. Here we give you a brief summary of the known impacts of speech, language and communication difficulties in children’s lives. This list can be daunting and depressing for some parents but it highlights the importance of accessing a good Speech Pathologist as soon as possible to help your child develop. Sometimes parents don’t fully understand the impacts of their child’s difficulties which means they don’t prioritise therapy amongst the other many demands of life as a parent, not because they aren’t good parents but just because they don’t understand the significance of the problem. This list will explain that significance.   Speech and Language Difficulties are Common: It has been estimated that between 16 and 21% of five year olds experience speech or language difficulties, with up to 50% of these children have problems in both areas (Reilly et al., 2010).   General Outcomes: Children with speech and language difficulties are at risk for ongoing communication problems in adulthood as well as cognitive, academic, behavioural, social and psychiatric difficulties (Bashir & Scavuzzo, 1992). Children with speech and language difficulties in...

Irlen syndrome, coloured lenses and reading: the facts

The lure of the lens When a parent or teacher is watching a child struggle to read, and dealing with tears every night at homework time, the promise of an easy cure and simple diagnosis is alluring. One of these promised cures is the use of coloured lenses or coloured transparent overlays to address visual sensitivity or processing difficulties aka.  U2 head man Bono is particularly famous for wearing coloured or dark lenses. As much as I love U2 I’m going to have to recommend you don’t go trying to make your child look like Bono in the interests of solving his reading problems though. Learning to read is a complex skill that requires high level interactions between dozens of different skill areas to work. In fact reading’s so complex it has even been shown to make physical changes to our brain structure. This complexity is why reading difficulties are so common. It’s a natural human tendency to want to reduce such complex problems down to simple solutions. However, in reviewing the evidence for the efficacy of coloured lenses or overlays for dyslexia, there are some large pitfalls that parents and teachers who want to help children with reading difficulties should be aware of.   The Theory The theory behind the use of coloured lenses for dyslexia is that reading difficulties are primarily caused by a visual-perceptual issue due to a weakness in the pathway of the visual system. People who support this theory claim that the cells in this pathway are sensitive to coloured light (especially yellow light). It is suggested that the use of coloured lenses in glasses or coloured transparent overlays placed over the text should correct visual ‘distortions’ (Ray, Fowler,...

Exciting new service: Unique Child Educational Experiences

We are proud (and very excited) to announce that the amazingly talented Jane Loveday (teacher by background) will soon be offering uniquely tailored educational experiences for children to help them learn how to learn. Described as a “whole classroom and curriculum tailored to one unique child”. Jane will guide your child to learn how to learn, step by step. This isn’t tutoring or teaching or therapy, it’s a holistic educational experience specifically designed for your child’s personal needs and preferences. She is amazing with children with ASD, ADHD, SPD etc and will be offering this unique service from our rooms at Chatterbugs soon. Jane will also be offering consulting services to help train teachers and school staff in how to help your individual child to learn and participate more fully. If anyone is interested just send us an email at chatterbugs@gmail.com and we can provide some more details. These services will be such an asset to our community and are sorely needed for “those children”. Maybe your child is one of “those children”. The kids that try their hardest but struggle to fit into a system that doesn’t work for them. The kids that the teacher just doesn’t seem to understand. The kids whose behaviour is communicating something but others can’t see through it to the feelings behind. We believe “those children” have something special to contribute to the world and deserve to learn how to learn and to love learning like any other child. Jane has the heart, skills and experience to be able to reach and understand what children need and then create an environment where they...

The importance of customer feedback

We are lucky in Toowoomba to have a wide variety of medical and allied health services that deliver excellent care, but none of us can improve if we don’t get feedback. We’ve had some new families choose us to help their children recently and these parents have commented on how different our service was to some other health services they had experienced in other locations. I hope that the experiences they relayed were rare experiences but the feedback they’ve provided on our service has helped us to know how we can continue to improve our service. We encourage families to provide as much feedback as possible to their health service providers because we know from firsthand experience that it makes a real difference and often if there’s an issue there’s a simple solution we can easily put in place if we only know there is a problem. Sometimes people only provide feedback when they have a complaint to make so were were extremely grateful to these clients for providing feedback on the things they loved. This helps us to know what to keep doing or to do more of. Here are 3 things we are continuing to focus on at Chatterbugs because our clients love it: 1. Parents get the answers they need. One mother related how with many medical and health appointments she feels like she answers a barrage of questions from the professional but that then her questions don’t get clearly answered in return. She said, “I love Chatterbugs’ Simple Steps Plan that outlines exactly where are are, where we are going and the first steps to get there.” For every new assessment...

Parents, YOU are the expert! (aka “The mysterious case of the red spaghetti server”)

I had the privilege of helping babysit my nephews the other day. It’s always fun hanging out with my sibling’s kids and it amazes me how different they all are. When my sister and I asked if the boys had any particular sleep routines I was surprised when my brother almost reverently handed over something that looked like this: He then proceeded to tell us how once it is bedtime if you gently rub his son’s head and back with the spiky bits of the spaghetti server he goes straight to sleep. We accepted the pasta sleep sceptre dutifully but somewhat doubtfully. Sure enough when it came time for bed he protested because he didn’t want to miss out on the somewhat dubious excitement of my sister and I doing some housework together. I took him to the bedroom and used my best therapist voice to be understanding and gently encourage him to lay down. He kept crying but eventually lay down (possibly only because I was cuddling him and I lay down hehe). I then remembered the red spaghetti server. I fetched it and asked if he wanted “tickles” and he eventually nodded (while still trying to escape) and pointed to his back. The moment I placed it on his back he visibly relaxed; within 5 minutes he was fast asleep. Take that doubting me! This experience was a gentle reminder to me of a key lesson that many health professionals forget sometimes. As the parent YOU are the expert on YOUR CHILD. You might not know everything about their medical or developmental needs but, more importantly than any of that,...

Story Time in the Park – free community event this Friday!

We’ve been proud to support our fabulous local library together with First Five Forever in this fantastic series of community storytelling events. Our team have had heaps of fun and met some new friends. The good new is…it’s on again this Friday 5th February at Laurel Bank Park. If weather is looking less than ideal we will be in the hall at the park (near Hill Street). There are lots of stories, activities and singing for the kids and friendly conversation for parents. The fun kicks off at 9am and is completely free – hope to see you there! If you are looking for things to do with your child then this is perfect: Things to do in...