By Lauren MacDonald (Speech-Language Pathologist)
My name is Lauren and I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) at Alphabet Soup Speech Pathology. I am very excited to be writing this blog in celebration of Loud Shirt Day – an annual event that helps raise awareness of hearing loss in children
As an SLP, parents regularly ask me questions such as; “I don’t think my child is talking as much as he/she should be…should I be worried?” or, “What speech sounds should my child be able to say?” When faced with questions like these, one of the first things I ask is whether the child has had their hearing tested. Most people answer ‘yes’ to this question as it is mandatory for all children who are born in Australia to have their hearing screened at birth – however, this does not guarantee that your child won’t develop a hearing loss (this can occur due to a range of reasons, such as recurrent ear infections). In fact, one child in Australia is identified with impaired hearing every day! Left undetected a hearing loss can negatively impact your child’s speech, language and literacy development. This highlights the importance of arranging for your child’s hearing to be re-tested in their early years, particularly if you have concerns about their development.
Some ‘red flags’ or warning signs that your child may be suffering from a hearing loss include:
- Limited amount of talking (or no talking)
- Difficulty understanding your child’s speech when they talk
- Difficulty learning
- Failing to respond to his/her name
- Watching TV at a high volume
- Talking loudly
- Having poor attention
- Becoming easily frustrated when there is a lot of background noise
- Absence of the ‘s’ or ‘f’ sounds
It is important to note that some children may not show any of these symptoms (especially if they have a mild hearing loss) until they are in more difficult listening and communication situations, such as a noisy classroom.
Knowing what speech, language and literacy milestones children typically achieve before starting Prep will also help in determining if there may be a hearing loss. However, it is important to keep in mind that all children grow and develop differently. These milestones can be used as an indicator of what a child SHOULD do, not what a child MUST DO before beginning Prep.
- Speak in clear sentences
- Most speech sounds should be clearly audible
- 90% of your child’s speech should be easily understood by strangers
- Use consonant blends in words, such as ‘bl’ in blue and ‘nd’ in bend
- Retell stories or events utilising – who, what, when & where
- Answer questions involving problem solving, predictions, solutions and explanations
- Use past, present and future tenses (irregular forms may still be difficult)
- Express how they feel or what they want and/or need verbally
- Follow 3-step directions in sequence
- Understand location concepts e.g. ‘under’, ‘between’, ‘next to’, ‘above’
- Can identify rhyming words
- Can hear the beats in words
- Can identify sounds in small words e.g. c-a-t
- Can recognise their own name
- Name letters
As parents/carers you know your child/ren best. If you have any concerns or queries regarding your child’s hearing, speech, language and/or literacy skills seek professional guidance. At Alphabet Soup Speech Pathology we offer speech and language screeners. These are a 15 minute consult, at $30 per child, which provide us with information regarding your child’s current speech sound use and a sample of their language. This can then inform us as to whether further, more formal assessments should be performed. These can be performed at your child’s childcare centre and we also offer onsite therapy for those in need.
I hope you and your families enjoy Loud Shirt Day on Friday 18th October! Your support will change the lives of children who are deaf or hard of hearing by giving them the gifts of speech and language. If you would like to donate to the cause, you can access the website here: www.loudshirtday.com.au