Happy New Year everyone!

Have you made any new years resolutions? I normally go down the “eat less chocolate” road (although I’ve never had much success with that one!) but this year I’ve decided to do something different and here’s why…

Did you know…

  • Children with autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy often begin their life with a communication impairment.
  • 20% of four year old children have difficulty understanding or using language
  • 8.5% of 3 year old children experience stuttering, with the figure increasing to 12.2% by 48 months
  • 16% of school students have a language impairment (which affects students across all grades, in all subjects including maths, visual arts and PE)
  • Children with a language impairment are six times more likely to have a reading problem than children without
  • 80% of children identified in primary school with language-based learning difficulties had unresolved reading, writing and spelling problems in secondary school
  • 14% of 15 year olds have only basic literacy skills
  • 28% of teachers take time off work each year because of voice problems
  • 46% of young Australian offenders have a language impairment
  • There is a high correlation between communication difficulties and poor mental health
  • Three in every 1,000 newborns have hearing loss, which without intervention can affect their speech, language and literacy.
  • Indigenous children have three times more hearing problems than non-Indigenous children

Scary stuff isn’t it?

This is why my aim for the year is to spread the message about the importance of communication as far as I possibly can. When people find out that I am a paediatric speech pathologist the most common responses are, “So you see kids with lisps?” (which I do) and, “You must do lots of how now brown cow stuff” (which I don’t), but there is so much more as well!

Based on the available research it is estimated that over 1.1 million Australians have a communication disorder. That’s 1 in 20 Australians, which proves that communication disorders are much more common than people tend to think. What’s more, due to the huge variability in children’s speech and language development, children may move in and out of ‘disordered’ categories as they develop. For example, a child measured as ‘typical’ at age two may fall into a ‘disordered’ level at age four. Therefore, monitoring of children’s communication development needs to be an ongoing process, with single ‘screening’ approaches at one age unlikely to identify all the children who may need support at different ages.

Now for some good news

Early intervention is the key to preventing or reducing the lifelong implications for many Australians living with communication impairment. This is why I hope to raise awareness and understanding about communication skills, development and the various types of communication difficulties. I also want to provide ideas and advice in order to empower and support parents, carers, teachers and of course, the little people in our lives.

I know I am only one person, but if I can help just one other person then it will all be worth it!