Study reveals gap in Australian child health services

10:05, May 14, 2010      

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One quarter of Australian preschool children have difficulty speaking and making speech sounds, with fewer than half receiving specialist treatment from a speech pathologist, a study revealed on Thursday.

The Sound Effect study, conducted Australia-wide by Charles Sturt University, investigated the occurrence of speech impairment in four to five-year-olds and the impact it had on the overall development of over 1,000 rural and metropolitan children.

The study also found that 10 percent of the children investigated were in need of speech pathology treatment but did not have access, while a possible 57 percent of children with speech impairments were not being treated as their disorder was undiagnosed.

Chief investigator Professor Sharynne McLeod believed that the way speech impairments are identified and treated in children of this age group must change as a result of the study.

"Speech pathology intervention is effective for young children if it is received prior to starting school, before they learn to read and write. If they don't receive this help before starting school, they are more likely to struggle with literacy activities and social interactions," McLeod said.

She added that parents who suspected their children of having a language difficulty would use a range of other community services, like doctors, playgroups and parent groups, rather than consult a speech pathologist.

Source: Xinhua
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