The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) say they are “very worried” about the number of toddlers in the UK that are struggling with communication because of repeated lockdowns.
Therapists and charities have expressed fears about a sharp decline in speech and motor skills, with referrals for language therapy doubling. Speech and language therapy sessions are provided to children (and adults) to help them communicate.
Unable to Keep Up
Kamini Gadhok, the chief executive of the RCSLT, told the Telegraph that its members were “very worried” about the number of toddlers struggling with communication and that its member therapists are unable to keep up with demand.
“The bigger the gap by the time the child is five, the more difficult it is to close,” she said. Gadhok warned that without early intervention, those children are far more likely to suffer emotional and behavioural problems.
Assessments showed that one in five children are not meeting expected standards by the age of two-and-a-half, with thousands likely to need help such as speech and language therapy.
In The Conversation, Yvonne Wren, founder and director of ChildSpeech wrote that masks “obscure facial expression, which contributes to how we understand the meaning behind the words we hear. When this is taken away, not only is the potential for misunderstanding (and mislearning) increased but there can also be an impact on children’s development of social and emotional skills.”