Did you know that tens of thousands of children in Ontario require speech therapy? Most people don’t. However, the waiting lists for in-school speech therapy are extremely long, and many children must wait for months or even years for proper care.
According to BraveKids.org, “delaying speech therapy for your child runs the risk of missing that all-important window of time between birth and three years of age when the brain is maturing and learning happens rapidly.” This means that children could miss the opportunity to develop proper communication skills at a vital time in life.
The purpose of speech therapy is to improve children’s communication skills.
Depending on a child’s specific needs, the goal of the therapy sessions may be to improve fluency, coordination of the speech muscles or communication between the brain and body. The length of time required for treatment depends the severity of the speech issue.
Completing speech therapy provides children with many benefits, including:
- The ability to better express themselves and understand ideas
- The ability to keep up in school
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved communication skills
- Fluent speech
- Better quality of life
- Lower likelihood of socialization issues
Impacts of waiting for speech therapy
When children must wait for speech therapy, it can affect their ability to learn and perform in the classroom. While they wait, it’s common for these children to fall behind, and they are also more likely to have trouble socializing with other children.
“When the children do get therapy, it’s only within a finite amount of sessions, which are often not enough to treat the child completely. It has many in the field calling for an overhaul of a fragmented system that is slow to respond to children looking for care during a critical time in their development,” says Oliver Sachgau in the Globe and Mail.
“For many other children who aren’t covered by health plans, the only option is to go through the publicly funded speech-therapy system. Children of school age can get therapy either through speech pathologists in school boards or through Community Access Care Centres in Ontario (or similar community-care agencies in other provinces), depending on the type of speech problem.”
The good news is that the Ontario government has recently announced more funding for preschool speech and language programs through its Special Needs Strategy.
For a child to be successful in speech therapy, the lessons need to be applied and practised at home as well. It can be very time-consuming for parents and children, but with persistence and practice, it will pay off.
If your child is in need of speech therapy and is currently on a waiting list, consider private health insurance to help offset the costs of treatment.