The rise of social media can certainly be looked upon as both a blessing and a curse for parents out there. There are of course the huge benefits of finding allies on those social networks - other Mums who are going through the same trials and tribulations that come with parenthood, people who can offer a friendly ear, advice or support. But whilst advice from other Mums is almost always well meaning, it may not always be accurate. And here is a case in point:
Over the last few years, I have read countless posts on parenting facebook groups from worried Mums who have a child with speech and language difficulties. Sometimes these Mums have already met with a Speech and Language Therapist, and sometimes they are at the very start of the process, and are asking those initial questions. And whilst most of the responses are helpful, on almost every post, I see 'the comment'.
'Just don't worry about it - they all catch up eventually'
'My little boy didn't talk until he was 4, and then he just started talking in full sentences - just relax'
'You never see teenagers with delayed language - it'll be fine.'
Well intentioned? Yes
Accurate? No. If it was, then Speech and Language Therapists would be out of a job!
Yes, there are many young children who present with speech and language difficulties who make great progress without intervention and 'catch up' with their peers. But there are also a huge number out there who need the additional support and guidance that therapy can offer, and who would likely make much slower progress were this support not in place. And, without wanting this to come across as a scare-mongering post, there absolutely ARE teenagers out there with delayed language skills. Many teenagers receive additional speech and language support in school, and moreover there are specialist language units across the country to support secondary school children with speech and language difficulties, because of the huge impact that this can have on literacy skills, and therefore on future employment and job prospects.
The evidence out there in support of early intervention for speech and language difficulties is too numerous to mention, but the most notable in recent years is the Bercow Review, recently reviewed 10 years after it was first published and still wholly relevant.
So, the point of this ramble?
If you are concerned about your child's speech and language development, please seek the advice of a Speech and Language Therapist. You can do this via your local NHS provision, or through an independent therapist.
Please don't assume that your child will catch up - although they may well do, the argument for early intervention is very strong. At the very least, it won't hurt!
Are you worried about your child's speech and language development? Not sure what is normal for your child's age? Why not comment below and we can point you in the right direction.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!