Western Sydney speech pathologists to support little language learners

Speech pathologists from Western Sydney dicsussing the Growing Little Langauage Learners program.

Ten per cent of children aged between 0 and five are at risk of delay in two areas of their personal development including speech, language or physical growth.

That’s one of the reasons why Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) speech pathologists partnered with early childhood teachers to train them to help improve kids’ health and development outcomes.

Allied Health Professor Vicki Flood said the project is a collaboration between WSLHD, Cumberland Council’s early childcare education centres and the University of Sydney.

“The project is called Growing Little Language Learners (GLLL) and it involves our speech pathologists working with the centre staff to educate and identify any issues with children’s speech and learning issues and to help resolve them,” Vicki said.

“Our speech pathologists taught the educators the skills to identify children with delays in language development. They looked for signs, including if a two year-old was not able to join two words together or had very few single words, and then the educator would work closely with this child and notify the family.

“Language plays a major role in a child’s development and it can have a flow on effect impacting play skills, future development of literacy and engagement with family, friends and the wider community,” Vicki said.

Early intervention is important as more complex language issues require help from a health professional.

The centre staff are now equipped to help children learn to say longer sentences and to use correct grammar. For example if the child said ‘dog’ the teacher said ‘big dog’, or if the child said ‘car fast’ the teacher said ‘the car is fast’.

As a result of this collaboration, the speech pathology team received a grant from the Paediatric Innovation Funding Scheme to support further research.

For more information contact Alison Britton at Alison.britton@health.nsw.gov.au