Are we in a Speech and Language Crisis? Life after Lockdown.
Life after lockdown has brought a whole new set of unexpected challenges for parents to overcome. If you’re a parent whose child is struggling to communicate effectively it might feel like you’re in a speech and language crisis, but let me assure you, it’s a solvable problem.
And please believe me, you’re not alone!
Successive lockdowns, mask-wearing, Covid-related absences and a limited range of social interactions have contributed to a surge in the number of children falling behind in their speech and language skills, amongst other things! It’s to be expected. We can’t compare what we experienced as a country, and as parents, to anything that has happened before. This is truly a unique challenge. But don’t panic - there’s plenty you can do to help get your kids back on track!
Plymouth Speech and Language Therapists are in High-Demand!
For many parents, when children returned to the classroom there was a hope things would go back to normal. Some kind of normality anyway! But it didn’t happen. In the past extra support would be in place to help little ones recover from anything impacting on their educational development. Unfortunately this has not been the case. This is not a criticism of the schools, the challenges put on the education system has been monumental and staffing absences continue to affect all schools across the country. It’s no wonder that Plymouth speech and language therapists are in such high-demand!
As a speech therapist based in Plymouth I’ve seen first-hand the enormous impact of Covid on children’s communication skills. Pre-pandemic, here at Step Up Speech & Language, we received around three enquiries a month from parents concerned about their children’s speech and language development. Fast forward to early 2022, and we’re handling several enquiries every day. And we’re not alone - this sudden call for speech and language therapists is high right across the UK and unfortunately, just like the shortages schools are facing, there just aren’t enough speech and language therapists available to meet this unexpected surge in demand.
Effective Communication: Don’t Press the Panic Button!
Your parental concern is well placed - effective communication is vital to ensuring children progress well in school and in life. However, there is no need to press the panic button! If you’ve noticed your children struggling, simply being aware of the issue is an important first step. So congratulations. You’re taking that first step by reading these words!
Here’s why you shouldn’t press the panic button. If your child is struggling to communicate, it’s not your fault. The pandemic delivered a hefty blow to a great number of children’s speech and language skills.
And this is why…
Children learn language from having a wide range of everyday experiences and speaking opportunities with the world: Teachers, peers, school staff, shop assistants, the random lady at the bus stop etc. Children of all ages have been deprived of daily conversations, disrupting opportunities for developing those essential speaking and listening skills.
Evidence has revealed the major impact the pandemic has had on children’s communication development. The Education Endowment Fund (EEF) found that 96% of surveyed primary schools were concerned about pupils’ speech and language development, adding, “Speaking and understanding language is critical to children’s ability to read, write and learn other subjects, not to mention their relationships, mental health and future job prospects.”
Here at Step Up Speech and Language Therapy, we give parents and children all the tools they need to quickly catch up in fun, imaginative ways - making sure children become confident communicators during their school years and beyond!
Our services are in high demand here in Plymouth but we have addressed this issue by creating another way to work with parents and children through our Teletherapy Service which has provided us with a certain level of flexibility and a new way to reach more children in need of our services.
Lisa Taylor-Jones is an accredited independent Speech and Language Therapist in Plymouth who has helped hundreds of children overcome their speech and language difficulties to become confident speakers.
For more information, visit www.stepupsl.com.