As a Speech Language Pathologist, I am always so encouraged to hear of proactive parents, that simply ask the right question to the right health professional.
I know the feeling; Moms are always struggling with something… whether it’s their child’s diet, antibiotics, bad behaviour, emotions, tantrums, potty training, screen time limits, stuttering, anxiety or sleep deprivation. It’s virtually impossible to find and access experts in between screaming matches and vomit. The person you need to get hold of is unavailable. Asking Facebook is a time-saver. However, it’s a risky business! A fellow mom will know as much as you do about your child’s development. In fact, the 20 moms who answer your post actually know far less than you, because in reality, they don’t know your child.
I’m not saying whisk your child off for an appointment at every turn, but moms have unmatched intuition. As a mom, you know when you need advice. A mom’s gut feel is not to be ignored but the resulting advice from another mom will simply be a temporary lull… and can cause a bigger problem that you have to deal with later. In contrast, a short conversation with an experienced professional could change your life.
Unless they are professionals themselves; it’s a dangerous game adhering to anyone who tells you “your child is perfect”, “let it go” or “wait and see”, when you have a genuine intuitive concern.
Please remember, asking a professional might not mean formal therapy sessions. I know that most therapists are open (I know I am) to chatting over the phone to parents who are worried about their child’s development, and sharing simple home adaptations. In fact, I know most therapists would be begging you as parents to call and ask before “waiting and seeing”. Believe me, we are tearing our hair out with the waiting lists and the demand for our services in school-aged children.
If you do ask and should therapy be needed, please be settled that it won’t cause emotional stress or anxiety in your child at a young age. Child-centred therapies are relaxed and play-based.
The simple “nip it in the bud” approach is the one most important pieces of advice I could give. This small act of pro-activity, the second you feel concerned, even when your child is 3 or younger, will have such an impact on the ability of your child to thrive. Not to mention decrease the high numbers of children in remedial units, or needing assessments for thousands of Rands in primary school.
Every piece of psychological or medical advice and research advocates this response: ask a professional as early as you notice the difficulty. Deal with it when the delay is still small and relatively simple to fix.
Another dynamic is that the younger the child, the more likely it is that the therapy is going to be fun, play based, motivating and family-centred. No drama, no sitting still, no tabletop homework, no flash cards, just good old-fashioned learning through play.
Parents, allow your children to thrive by making the right decision for them. Nip it in the bud, and ask the right people right away, right now. Your mind will be immediately eased knowing that you are doing the best you can.
Written by Joanne Ravell – Speech and Language Pathologist (BCP – SLP ) KZN