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THE EARLIER, THE BETTER

- ‘Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late’ to Identify Problems with Child’s Speech Skills, Health Unit Says -

When it comes to your child’s speech, hearing and language skills, time is of the essence.

The early identification of delays or problems with a child’s communication abilities is essential to getting the help that he or she will require for future success in school and life. “Simply put, don’t wait to see if your child’s speech and language improve,” says Shelley Shaughnessy, a Family Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “The earlier potential problems or delays are addressed, the more likely they can be corrected.”

May is Speech and Hearing Month, and the Health Unit is promoting the importance of a child’s speech, hearing and language skills. To mark Speech and Hearing Month, Health Unit nurses will be at Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYC) throughout the month of May in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to provide information on speech and language milestones to families and provide free books for children. More details about these Celebrate Speech and Hearing Month events are available by calling your local OEYC site.

According to Shaughnessy, approximately one in 10 Ontario preschool children have a communication delay, which if not identified early on, can pose problems in the future.

“A child needs well-developed communication skills to make friends, learn new things and to start reading and writing,” Shaughnessy notes. “That makes it important for parents to not only look for potential problems or delays, but to also nurture and support good communication skills in children.”

The local Preschool Speech and Language Program is a valuable service for local families in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. It includes a network of community agencies – including the Health Unit – that can provide speech and language services for children six years of age and younger. The Speech and Language Program’s KidTalk website is a good starting point for families who want to learn about local resources and supports available in their community.

“The KidTalk website is great for learning more about enhancing your child's speech skills, getting tips for communicating with your child, and the importance of hearing and vision in the development of language,” Shaughnessy notes.

For media inquiries, contact:

Shelley Shaughnessy, Family Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or 1-866-888-4577.

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