“Sure he’ll just grow out of it…wasn’t his father 5 before he said a word…and look at him now! Now have a cup of tea….ah go on….”

While this could be a quote from Mrs. Doyle in Father Ted, well meaning advice such as this may deter a parent from seeking help or advice from a speech and language therapist.

Parents, caregivers, family members and/or  professionals can sometimes feel unsure about when to refer to a speech and language therapist.  I frequently get phone calls or emails from concerned parents wondering whether they need to see a speech and language therapist.While there are numerous guidelines available regarding normal speech and language development, (a few are listed below), often the best indicator is your own gut feeling. If you feel that something isn’t quite right, then it’s important to listen to this.  It is unfortunate when I hear at an initial appointment, that the parent, or another person who knows the child well, was  concerned from an early stage, but that this wasn’t followed through until much later. Yes, as parents we can worry, but if our gut feeling is that something isn’t right, it’s important to go with that, and to speak to a qualified person, rather than be talked out of it by well meaning others. It’s certainly better to be reassured that development is fine, than to look back a year later and wish that you had started sooner.

Not sure what is normal?

Many websites can give you information about what is normal at each stage of development. Some of these are listed below.

NHS guidelines ScotlandReferral guidelines from 18 months to 7 years

Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists (I.A.S.L.T.) fact sheets on communication development

Ultimately, if you’re concerned, or unsure, the best thing is to contact a speech and language therapist, either through your local H.S.E. clinic, or privately through the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists in Private Practice (I.A.S.L.T.P.P.)

Article featured in Connected Communication Newsletter, January 2014. 

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