My toddler was bubbly and ‘full of beans’, but also shy around non-family members. My toddler could communicate with family through the help of gestures, sound effects and our recognition of their attempts at words; however, my child was not able to communicate effectively with others. This inability to play, talk and really engage, particularly with other children, deeply concerned me.
After having some very honest and frank chats with close friends about my concerns, I decided to trust my ‘gut instinct’ and seek help. Friends had recommended the speech development team at Geraldton Regional Hospital, so I decided to give it a go.
I was able to refer my toddler to see a speech therapist as a parent and after a somewhat lengthy wait time my child received an initial consult a number of months later. This session confirmed that my toddler was developing their speech at a slower rate than others of a similar age.
From here, we met with the speech therapist three times in the next six months. Visits were fabulous! They were completely age appropriate, play-based and were not intimidating for my little one. My child actually really enjoyed going! After each session I was given activities and strategies to implement at home to further support my little one. This mostly involved subtle changes to the way that I communicated and that I could use to elicit my toddler's speech. I could not believe the progress that my child made! My toddler began to reduce the use of gestures and sound effects and was increasing the number of words in utterances.
Around a year later, my child’s hearing was tested to rule out any other influences in their speech development. This showed that their hearing was completely normal. A little later, we began meeting with a therapist in the local hospital on a weekly basis who was implementing a plan devised by our speech therapist in Geraldton. These sessions began to focus on particular sounds that needed development. We still met with our speech therapist once a term and my child’s plan was adjusted where necessary. Again, I was given activities to take home and implement, as well as a journal to record our weekly practice in.
This time I was even more surprised at the improvements that I saw. My child was now beginning to speak clearly and was being understood by others, including children. I cannot put into words the feelings that I had when I began to see, for the first times, my little one engaging in conversations with other children. As you can imagine, development of my toddler’s communicative skills has also assisted her social and emotional development, particularly her self-confidence. I recognise that these are also completely necessary for academic development at school.
I am so glad that I trusted ‘my gut’ and pursued this issue and I highly recommend others doing the same if they feel it might be necessary.
I feel that we were given access to the best quality health services through our speech therapist at the Geraldton Regional Hospital and the therapist at our local hospital. My only complaint is that there was wait time to be given an initial consult. If this is because of high demand and being under-resourced, then I plead for more resources. I have seen first-hand the benefits of early intervention in speech development and this, surely, is reason enough for greater resource allocation. Hats off to the speechies at the Regional!
"Speech Development resources"
Posted by Country mother (as ),