Debunking some myths when parents ask questions…..

Let’s debunk some common myths about children and speech/language/communication development.

As an early childhood educator, you will need to be ready to accept a range of reactions from parents and caregivers when raising your concerns about a child’s development.

Every response from a parent or carer is valid and can be accepted without judgement.  These conversations definitely flow more smoothly, however, if educators are equipped with knowledge and helpful information for families.

Unfortunately, there is much available at our fingertips that is not accurate.  Let’s dispel a few of these common myths now.

My child has a speech delay.  Does this mean that something is ‘wrong’ with my child or that my child is not intelligent?

There is nothing ‘wrong’ with a child who has speech, language or communication difficulties and a delay or disorder in communication abilities does not necessarily also correlate with a child’s cognitive abilities.  We see many very bright children who just happen to have specific areas of their development requiring support.  If your child has a delay in the development of his or her speech, language or communication skills….we now know that early intervention is really key and that we can help them to make great progress if we start early.

I was late to talk.  Won’t my child just ‘grow out of it’?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  We cannot know the answer to this question.

What we do know though, is that communication skills underpin academic, social skills and are crucial to one’s quality of life.

The earlier we offer support to a child who is struggling to develop these skills, the better the outcome we can expect.

Some children will ‘catch up’ on their own but we don’t know who will and who will not.  Children who will not just ‘grow out of it’ usually respond really well to the support that a speech pathologist can provided.

Have I caused my child’s speech delay?

Speech delays are not caused by poor parenting, a parent working long hours, birth order, parents not talking enough to their children or the provision of screen time.  Instead, delays in speech, language and communication are caused by a range of factors including hearing loss and genetics.  Parents blaming themselves for their child’s delays is simply not helpful in any way.  Working towards acceptance of a child’s difficulties and developing a plan to support a child is far more positive and will result in better outcomes for all.

Isn’t my child too young to be concerned about this?

No!  The sooner we identify children who are lagging in their development of these vital skills, the better our chance of supporting them to make terrific progress.  Significant gaps are apparent in the vocabulary knowledge and use by the age of only 3 years of age.  These discrepancies tend to persist and even widen across a lifetime with implications across academic, social and emotional areas.  Early Identification and Intervention is so important.

Prepare for your conversation with families and answer their questions honestly, accurately and confidently.

If you […]


So you have some concerns about a child you educate…..

The first step is always to start documenting your observations

As an early childhood educator, you cannot accurately identify and support children who have speech, language and communication difficulties without first collecting and documenting your observations.

Before you approach parents, it is essential to document your observations about the child’s communication skills.  To make it a little easier, we have a free comprehensive guide for early childhood educators that you can download from our website or a quick cheat sheet if you want to opt for something a little quick simpler .

Schedule a meeting with the parents

Conversations with a parent about concerns you may have regarding their child should not be attempted during drop off / pick up times.  Instead, schedule a meeting with the parent.  This will allow for a more personal, detailed conversation and provides parents with notice so that they can prepare themselves emotionally.

It also goes without saying that such meetings and conversations can only be scheduled when there is a high element of trust and positive rapport between the early childhood educator and the parent.  The importance of pouring your energy into establishing these positive relationships with families cannot be understated!

Use Positive, Encouraging Language in the meeting but be HONEST

Framing your observations in more positive language whilst still clearly communicating your concerns is important.

Instead of “I am worried about your child’s development”  try “I have some observations that I would like to share with you”.

You can then share your observations and provide specific examples to help parents understand why you have concerns about their child’s development.  Encourage parents to also share their observations with you.

Listen more than you Speak

Make some open ended comments and questions to encourage parents to share information with you about their child.

Actively listen to this information.  Remember that the parent is always the expert when it comes to their child.  They can always provide us with more information to help us understand their child’s strengths and challenges as well as other factors which may be impacting their child’s development.

Be Empathetic

Remember that discussing a child’s development can be sensitive topic for many parents.  Try to understand and accept a variety of responses from parents and shown them that you are there to support them and their child.

Offer to Help

It is one thing to raise a parent’s awareness about a child’s developmental challenges.  It is another to have the parent understand, acknowledge and come to terms with this information.

Once these two first steps have been worked through, parents can feel very overwhelmed about where to start in order to help their child.  It is important for early childhood educators to have some helpful resources, contacts, service provider options and information at their fingertips so that parents feel supported in addressing their child’s developmental concerns.

Once again, our free resources (books, home programmes) can be of assistance as can our social media pages and .

Keep an eye out for next week’s Chatterbox […]


Speech Therapy: Is your child getting the right dose?

Dosage and Speech Pathology?  Isn’t dosage a term used when we are talking about medicines?

Yes, getting the dosage just right is really important when you are requiring a prescription from your doctor to manage a physical illness.

Getting the correct dosage of therapy is also really just as important for your child when managing his or her communication disorder.

What do we mean by dosage in Speech Pathology?

Dosage in Speech Pathology can refer to a few things.  It can refer to the number of planned sessions for your child, the frequency of those treatments, the time during therapy targeting a specific skill and the number of learning opportunities your child experiences during therapy, at home and at school / preschool.

Just like when medications are prescribed; different doses of treatment can be prescribed for different disorders to achieve better results.  There are also several factors that impact treatment dose.

Factors that Impact Dosage

Many factors require consideration by your child’s Speech Pathologist when prescribing dosage for your child.  These may include but are not limited to your child’s:

Disorder  / Diagnosis


Attention Level


Co-morbid conditions

Other factors external to your child such as your other family commitments, work hours and access to services also need to be considered when making a decision about treatment dose.

What do we know about dosage in Speech Pathology?

This area of research in our profession is still relatively new.  We need to know much more about the optimal doses of therapy for various speech, language and communication disorders.  We perhaps know the most about treatment doses for children with speech sound disorders.  There is an excellent review of the literature here

The evidence base for treatment dose when working with children who have language disorders is also growing.  Interestingly the ‘more therapy the better’ mantra is not necessarily true in this case.  Research is showing that children with language disorders may actually benefit mores so to low dose/high frequency or high dose/less frequency interventions than to high dose/high frequency approaches.

The bottom line?

Discuss treatment dose with your child’s Speech Pathologist today.


My child has started to Stutter

Stuttering is a relatively common communication disorder that affects 1-2% of the population and impacts the fluency or flow of speech.

Children who stutter have difficulty saying what they want to using smooth or fluent speech.  Unfortunately the onset of stuttering in young children can cause much worry and even alarm for parents.  Luckily we have several effective treatments at our fingertips to help….but first, some answers to some frequently asked questions.

What Causes Stuttering

Contrary to popular belief, stuttering is not caused by anxiety, exposure to trauma / stress or parenting.  Instead, it is now known that stuttering is a problem with neural processing involving the brain activity that supports speech production.  We also know that stuttering tends to run in families and is more common in males than females.

Can Stuttering Appear Overnight?

Stuttering can appear quite suddenly or can develop gradually over several weeks or months. Stuttering is usually first noticed in the toddler to preschool years when children are learning to combine words into phrases and short sentences.  Stuttering can range in severity to very mild to quite severe.

Will my child grow out of it?

Some children will naturally grow out of their stuttering whilst some will require therapy.  As it is not possible to predict which children will recover naturally, speech pathologists recommend that children who begin to stutter should receive therapy.

What Does Stuttering Sound Like?


These are the most common type of stuttering behaviour. Repetitions often occur at the beginning of an utterance and may be the first sound, syllable or entire word or phrase.

  • e.g. “C C C Can I have the car?”
  • e.g. “Can Can Can I have the car?”
  • e.g. “Choc Choc Chocolate is yummy”
  • e.g. “I want I want I want a biscuit”


Children who use this stuttering behaviour sound like they are ‘stuck’ on words. The word does not sound bumpy as with repetitions but more like a struggle to get the words out. Blocking is often accompanied by facial grimaces or other body movements.


Words may sound stretched
• e.g. “IIIIIIIIIIIIIII want one”

How is stuttering treated?

Luckily we have plenty of effective interventions available for treating stuttering.  Those who receive early intervention have really good chances of becoming stutter-free particularly if that treatment is received in the preschool years when treatments are simpler and more effective.

Some recent research has shown that even children as young as 7 who stutter are at risk of feeling anxious about talking in social situations so this is another reason why we recommend treating stuttering when a child is under the age of 6 years wherever possible.

There are currently two evidence-based approaches that we use to treat preschooler who stutter at Learn2Communicate. These are the Lidcombe Programme and the Westmead Program.  Both are effective and many can be delivered either face to face or using telehealth.

Please contact a Speech Pathologist if you have any concerns that your child may be stuttering.  Contact us if you would […]



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