Thought You Knew Speech and Language Therapy? Think Again

Speech and language therapy is a subject the vast majority of parents may never find themselves encountering or experiencing first-hand. Nevertheless, speech and language development issues among children are surprisingly common and affect thousands of UK families every year. In some instances, speech therapists for schools are brought in to assist. In others, private therapy is carried out either at the therapist’s office or the child’s family home represents the better option. But in all instances and all examples of speech and language therapists, there are a great many myths and common misconceptions that can mislead and misinform parents.

So for those looking to improve their knowledge on this undoubtedly important subject, what follows is a brief overview of just a few examples of the kinds of speech therapy myths you may well have read into:

1 – Age 2 or 1 is too young to identify and address speech problems

Starting with perhaps the single most important example of all, it’s commonly assumed that speech problems cannot be identified and addressed if the child is under three-years-old. In reality however, this really could not be further from the truth. The reason being that communication skills begin to develop the very moment a child is born. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a specific age or timeframe during which speech and communication difficulties in general begin to present themselves. While some children may demonstrate speech and language difficulties as infants, others don’t begin to set in until age 6, 7 or even later. The long and short of it therefore being that there is no such thing as too early or too late for a child to develop a speech or communication development problem.

2 – Clinic-based speech therapy is better than therapy provided in a school environment

The simple fact of the matter is that just like with any other health or wellbeing issue, the most appropriate approach when it comes to treatment will be determined in accordance with the case. While some children benefit more from private therapy, others are far more suitable to the therapy carried out in a classroom setting. As such, there is really no such thing as ‘better’ when it comes to approaches to speech and language therapy – it all comes down to the unique needs of the child. This is something that will be determined during the initial diagnosis and investigative processes, during which time all options will be considered and brought into the discussion.

3 – If the family doctor makes a referral, it means the child has a speech development problem

In so many instances, parents find themselves worrying unnecessarily having been recommended to speak to childhood speech and language specialists by their family doctors. In truth however, just because a doctor has made the suggestion that a therapist should be contacted does not in any way mean that there is a genuine problem to address. Instead, it is for qualified child speech and language therapists to carry out a full assessment of their own, in order to reach an accurate conclusion.

4 – More sessions mean faster progress and better results

Exactly how long it will take any child with a speech or language development issue to begin showing signs of progress will be determined by a multitude of factors. No two cases are ever the same, meaning it’s impossible to know ahead of time what to expect in terms of duration and results. Likewise, while some children require more regular appointments with their speech therapist, others need to see them infrequently and for a short period of time. As such, simply increasing the number of visits will not necessarily mean faster progress or better results.

5 – Individual (1:1) therapy is always better than group therapy

Last but not least, it’s important to be aware of the fact that group therapy sessions do not in any way mean that the children in question are being ‘short changed’ in terms of care quality. Depending on the specifics of the case in question and the child in general, there are many instances in which group therapy can be more effective than one-on-one sessions with the therapist. Or it may be recommended that the child take part in both private and group sessions, in order to maximise the benefits they receive. So while it is only natural to assume one-on-one sessions are always the best, this isn’t in fact always the case at all.