With one-in-five children experiencing a problem with communication by the time they start school, Sydney Local Health District is launching a new screening program to help kids much earlier.
Communication difficulties in children come in many forms. They can include not talking, having trouble listening or understanding, stuttering or problems with pronunciation. Jessica Figueira, Child and Family Health Speech Pathologist, is leading a program to identify these problems at an early age and offer parents a free service to help children with their talking and listening skills.
“We want to help families find out if their children would benefit from seeing a speech pathologist, and we want to help them access the service they need quickly and easily” says Ms Figueira.
From early October, a team of experts will be visiting day care centres, pre-schools and playgroups in the Sydney Local Health District to conduct communication check-ups. A report will be provided for all children screened and parents will receive a follow-up phone call if their child could benefit from speech pathology.
“We want to see these children when the communication concern is first identified. Early intervention is best, and we can do many things to help a child’s talking and listening skills early on in their development.”
From here, our experts will work with families to create the type of environment where children are given every opportunity to learn to talk and listen.
“If you talk about what a child is doing, what they’re seeing, what they’re showing interest in, then you’re adding language that they can listen to, understand and eventually use for themselves” says Ms Figueira.
If you have concerns about your child’s speech development, please call the Child Health Information Link on 9562 5400 or contact your playgroup or preschool for more information on the communication check ups.