Myth 1: Speech and language therapy is just about play
Speech and language therapy is often associated with a therapist who plays with children. Whilst this is true in the sense that speech and language therapy often involves play-based activities, the main aim behind the play activity is that of stimulating language whilst encouraging the use of cognitive and social skills which are very tightly linked to communication. Improvements in play skills may lead to better outcomes related to speech and language. An example of this includes the way a Speech and Language Therapist may teach a child that when they act in their environment, a response is attained and therefore, when they communicate they receive a response. This goal is often achieved through cause-and-effect toys which results in the child being motivated to communicate as he/she learns that when a button is pressed (action) , the toy lights up (response).
Myth 2: Speech and Language Pathologists only help children who stutter
Whilst stuttering is one of the communication difficulties which may require intervention, the role of the Speech and Language Pathologist is much more diverse. It involves any difficulties related to speech and therefore speech sounds and word pronunciation, language difficulties such as difficulties building sentences and expressing ideas as well as other communication challenges. Furthermore, difficulties related to interaction and social skills are also addressed on a one-to-one basis or group level. The Speech Therapist also provides assistance in cases of difficulties with literacy including reading and writing skills. Feeding-related difficulties may also be assessed by a Speech Therapist.
Myth 3: Children will always outgrow language delays therefore speech therapy is unnecessary
Children are all unique and therefore, whilst the first three years of life are critical for language acquisition, every child develops skills in his own time. Research indicates that not all children catch up with their peers and therefore it is suggested that the child is referred for speech and language therapy when a difficulty is suspected. Early intervention is promoted since this yields improved outcomes and it is never harmful for the child. Intervention helps the child to interact across a variety of settings whilst reducing any communication-related frustration. The Speech Therapist can help the family determine the best course of action whilst providing peace of mind. Risks of developing literacy difficulties at a later stage of development are also prevented.
Myth 4: Children exposed to two languages will have speech and language difficulties
Speech and language difficulties are not caused by exposure to two or more languages. Whilst this is often a factor which worries caregivers especially in the local context, research suggests that a cognitive advantage is present as the benefits of being exposed to two or more languages are endless. Even though initially learning two languages simultaneously might appear to delay language development in children, eventually, they will learn how to distinguish between the two languages and catch-up with their peers. Language mixing is a natural and fundamental aspect of bilingual discourse with no negative effect on language acquisition.
If you think you can benefit from the services of a speech therapist, you can book an appointment here.
Kirby Cutajar is a Speech and Language Pathologist within the Willingness team. She has a special interest in working with children who may be experiencing speech, language, and communication difficulties. She aims to develop a communication system that works for every unique individual whilst working closely with caregivers to encourage effective implementation of intervention.
Dodd, B. and Grech, H. (2007). Assessment of speech and language skills in bilingual children : A holistic approach. 15(2) 84-92.
Hyatt, I. (2021). Debunking common speech therapy myths. Retrieved from https://blog.expressable.io/debunking-common-speech-therapy-myths/
Wooster Community Hospital (2021). Speech Therapy Myths Debunked. Retrieved from https://www.woosterhospital.org/speech-therapy-myths-debunked/