“Afasic, the charity which supports children and parents with speech, language and communication needs, says 6% of children starting school have some degree of speech or language difficulty. Around one in 500 are thought to have a serious long-term problem. Picking it up early is important, says Alison Huneke, helpline manager at Afasic. There's more time to address it if it's picked up at this stage and then the child has less experience of failing and losing ground.” Alison Huneke, Afasic.
The problem is that many parents have a suspicion that there is a struggle somewhere, but are often told by their GP or a well-meaning professional, family member or friend to wait another 6 months.
This is actually the very worst thing that you could do. Intervention early on can be easy to implement and skills taught as a way of life. The longer you wait, the larger the gap. Even if there isn’t a problem, teaching additional skills as a way of life will certainly not be detrimental!
When your child gets to nursery or to school, it really is hit and miss as to how observant or supportive your school will be. We are very privileged that we work with incredible, forward thinking schools and teachers, but we realise that not all children and parents are blessed enough to experience this.
“The worst-case scenario is that children with specific language impairments become young offenders, since around half of this group of people are thought to have language problems. Although young people with SLIs look normal, they can suffer from loneliness, struggle to form close friendships and grow up dependent on their parents. Employment is also hard to secure.”
“As we grow up language is fundamental to virtually everything we do, says Prof Conti-Ramsden, and problems with it can be linked to issues which develop later in life, like anxiety and depression”. This is what we see in all areas of our work. We know that even in the first 18 months of life you can notice things not developing as they should. With the right interventions, these can be totally overcome.
Over half of all parents who have children with a language difficulty end up separating or divorcing. This is completely unacceptable and it is so important that we support whole family units.
This is the final in our Monday Musing four part series on loneliness. If you think that you have a struggle that we could help with, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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