If you were to be told your child had a speech or language development issue, the very last thing you’d want to hear is that you yourself had hindered their progress. You only want what is best for them and would move heaven and earth to help, but have nonetheless unknowingly fallen foul of a common mistake.
Whether working with speech therapists for schools or a private speech therapist in their own office, parents will always have a significant impact on the progress their children make. As such, it simply makes sense to enhance your own awareness of the kinds of mistakes most commonly made by well-meaning parents. None are so serious that they cannot be reversed, but this can only happen after acknowledging and accepting them for what they are.
1. Waiting too long to seek help
Perhaps the single most common of all mistakes is that of failing to bring the problem to the attention of the professionals, at the earliest possible stage. Extensive research into an endless variety of childhood speech and language development issues has found that the earlier therapy begins, the higher the effectiveness. By contrast, leave it longer than necessary and it may be a much more difficult and long-winded treatment process. As far as the experts are concerned, the right time to arrange a consultation is the very first time there’s even the slightest nagging concern that something may not be quite as it should be. Even if it is simply to put your mind at rest, it is worth giving the professionals a call at the earliest possible juncture.
2. Seeking help from the wrong people
Upon determining that your child may have a speech or language development issue of any kind, the only professionals you should be speaking to are experienced speech and language therapists. The simple fact of the matter is that even in the case of family doctors, they may not have the dedicated training and long-term experience in this exact field that’s needed to offer accurate advice and assistance. Likewise, turning to the Internet to find out exactly what you should do to help your child personally may not be the best option either. There is simply so much conflicting information on the web (often from those with no idea what they are talking about) that trusting the advice you come across online isn’t always advisable. Unless it is advice that has come directly from a trusted source and an expert in the subject, it isn’t advice you should be taking.
3. Trying to “fix” the problem
Following on from the above, many parents naturally believe that upon detecting what appears to be a relatively mild speech problem, they’re the best-equipped person to help address it. The only problem being that along with delaying the professional assistance the child needs, it is perfectly possible that your own approaches in the meantime could actually make things worse. The simple fact of the matter is that if you do not know exactly what you are doing to a professional level, you shouldn’t be doing it. Trying to fix the problem yourself amounts to nothing more than wasted time, along with the potential for the resulting treatment process to be longer and more difficult than it ever needed to be. You may be able to fix a lot of things in your children’s lives – this, sadly, isn’t one of them.
4. Not following instructions
If you have chosen a capable speech therapist, they will provide you with an extensive and on-going program to be carried out at home. Chances are there will be a lot of instructions to follow when there will of course be days/times when you all feel like ‘easing off’ a little. Unfortunately, failing to follow instructions to the letter is a sure-fire recipe for hindering your child’s progress. You basically need to think of it like this; every time you skip or miss something you were asked to do, that’s your child’s treatment completion date kicked forward to a later date. Even when it seems remedial and of little consequence, you’re rolling the dice with their progress and development.
5. Not self-educating
Last but not least, it’s important to remember that the more you know about the subject in general, the better equipped you will be to help, guide and support your child. Not only this, but improving your understanding of the subject will also make the subject as a whole much less daunting and worrying for you personally. You don’t necessarily have to study the condition in question to degree level, but there’s really no reason why you cannot at least arm yourself with a few learning materials and study up on the fundamentals.