Written by Verity Howarth, Speech Language Pathologist , Public Health

Caregivers and parents play a vital part in the assessment and treatment of toddlers and preschoolers with speech and language concerns.

This May, during Speech and Hearing Month, the Speech-Language Pathology Practice Council is highlighting the importance of caregivers in speech and language therapy across a variety of settings

Public Health Speech Language Pathologists assess and treat communication concerns in children under the age of five.

Caregiver involvement is crucial in all aspects of the program.

Referrals: Many of our referrals come from physicians and nurses, however, a large percentage comes from parents themselves. Parents often refer when a child does not start speaking according to milestones (e.g. first words at age one, word combinations at age two). Sometimes they notice that a child sounds unclear or is stuttering and they refer.

Assessment: With toddlers and preschoolers, it can be challenging to assess their communication in a clinical setting. We rely on the information parents provide us. Many of our assessment tools involve parent checklists. When a speech-pathologist is assessing a young child we usually include parents to make the testing more successful and the child more comfortable.

Treatment: Parent and caregiver training is the focus of many treatments offered by SLPs for young children. We often include parents in our sessions and offer training on use of speech, language and fluency strategies to help kids communicate better. Some of our group therapy sessions focus on parent training exclusively. It is wonderful to see parents, grandparents, or other caregivers learn to help their kids in activities throughout the day. With a bit of training, a visit to the park or the grocery store can become a language teaching session.

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