Auditory Processing Disorder

I had a discussion with a parent today that highlighted the need for this post. The topic of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) also referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) has been a source of controversy and warm discussions amongst academics, audiologists, speech pathologists and parents of children with listening difficulties for many years. I read this newly released white paper the other day that was a refreshing summary of the controversy and resulting conflicting information offered to parents who are trying to assist their children. This mother had identified that her child had many of the features that are indicative of APD but she was unsure of whether to get an assessment by an audiologist or a speech pathologist first. As we discussed her concerns about her child further it became obvious that this boy was struggling with a number of areas and needed immediate assistance to develop the functional skills he needs now. Given that within Australia there is no funding/support based on diagnosis of APD the diagnostic process may seem superfluous but the diagnostic assessment data compiled by an audiologist is often useful to the treating speech pathologist. So what does a parent do? I will suggest what I did to this parent. If you could access services for free you would get both straight away. If you are paying for services and on a limited budget then start with your speech pathologist as regardless of whether there is a diagnosis in place yet they can assist with the functional difficulties your child is experiencing. If it comes to a choice between therapy and diagnosis then...

Health Economics and Early Intervention

Today I spent the day learning more about health economics and cost-effectiveness analysis of health services. Sounds boring? Not at all. As a society we appear to have developed an endless appetite for health services. We all want ourselves and our families to have the best health possible but are we willing to pay for it? What is it worth to us? What do we miss out on as a society by spending that money on a particular health service? What is particular health outcome worth to us? Children with speech and/or language difficulties are at higher risk of later learning and literacy problems (find more information here) and lots of other problems too such as increased risk of violent crime and being less likely to complete high school.  Sounds depressing until you consider that this can be prevented or minimised through early intervention. Early intervention for speech and language difficulties is effective but is it worth the cost? James J. Heckman from the University of Chicago said, “early interventions have much higher economic returns than later interventions for disadvantaged children such as reduced pupil-teacher ratios, public job training, convict rehabilitation programs, adult literacy programs, tuition subsidies or expenditures on police.” Early intervention for children at risk has been shown to yield 8-14 dollars in benefit per dollar invested in providing the early intervention. That’s the kind of healthcare I want to be a part of! So the next time you think about paying for your child’s early intervention therapy consider the benefits of investing that money in their...