What is Early Intervention?
Speech and language delays are common amongst young children. Some children catch up with their peers without any intervention while some children need a little help to reach their developmental goals. A child’s first five years are crucial for speech and language development. Therefore, early intervention is highly beneficial for individuals with speech, language or communication needs. The earlier a problem with speech and language is identified the better is the outcome of treatment.
Speech-language pathologists offer early intervention services to teach cognitive, communication, physical, sensory, social, emotional and adaptive self-help skills. Early intervention calls for identification and treatment of speech and language difficulties at the earliest possible stage from the onset.
Why is early intervention important?
Early intervention is highly beneficial for individuals with speech, language or communication needs. Benefits of early intervention include:
- Improved social skills
- Increased confidence
- Improved academics
- Ability to communicate more effectively with others
- Intervention during the period of normal brain development results in better speech, language and communication outcomes
- Speech sound disorders can be quickly eliminated with early intervention
- Parents and caregivers are at the centre of early intervention (Through early intervention, parents can be taught valuable early language strategies so that they can help facilitate their child’s speech and language development)
How does it work?
As part of a multidisciplinary care team an SLP carries out an initial assessment and determines the services needed by a child. They develop a long-term action plan and set goals for therapy sessions and for parents to practice at home.
SLPs do not only focus on correcting issues as part of early intervention but they also help prevent the development of future disorders and difficulties by assessing risk factors and warning signs.
How can I support my child?
Language development can happen at any time and in any place. You can facilitate your child’s language in your daily routine e.g. while working in the kitchen, during bath time or with bed time story telling rituals
Play games and activities: How you interact with your child during play time as well as in daily routine largely shapes their speech, language and communication skills development.
For example: Pretend Play (a tea party with your child’s toys and get them to copy your actions such as drinking from a cup etc.
Modelling Behaviour : Children learn new words and sounds by listening to those around them therefore it is important to make sure you communicate clearly with your child.
Ask Questions : Questions are important to develop a child’s understanding but a lot of questions during play can mean that the adult is leading. Ask your child simple questions and give the child plenty of time to answer your question. You can add to or expand on their sentences or vocabulary without interrupting them, when they are responding to your questions.
Offering Choices: Offering a choice to your child is an excellent way for your child to express themselves. For example, ask them if they want juice or water? Or choosing between choices.