Monday, January 16, 2012

UK children's speech therapy cuts - Warning!

In an exclusive interview with The Independent , Ms Gross said parents needed more information about children’s speech development arguing that many families were still unaware how to help their youngsters.

She called for parents to be offered information via smart phones and social networking sites, saying parents were willing to make dramatic changes to their lifestyles once the dangers of their children’s excessive television viewing or dummy use were explained to them.

In her final report, Two Years On, Ms Gross warns that the improvements made in children’s speech during 2011, the national year of communication, risk being overturned because of the “significant cuts” to front-line services.

The cuts come as levels of communication problems identified in children continue to rise, with a 58 per cent growth in numbers of pupils with communication as their primary special need over the last five years.

Ms Gross told The Independent her visits to 105 out of 152 local authorities during her two years in the job had made her “very worried” about the effect of the cuts on children with communication problems.

Ms Gross said she feared that children would face significantly longer waits to see speech and language therapists for assessment. She said: “If you are three and have to wait around 18 months to be seen then it is going to be much harder to catch up. If children can have help and catch up by the time they are five and a half then there progress should be normal from then on. But research shows that a child whose problem persists after five and a half will struggle.”

Ms Gross was appointed the Government’s communication champion in January 2010 in order to boost awareness of the importance of developing children’s communication skills.

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