Wednesday, July 06, 2011

To all those Mums and Dads of late-talking toddlers - now they are telling you to NOT worry

Late talkers grow out of problems: study.
Belinda Tasker, National Medical Correspondent
July 5, 2011.
Sydney Morning Herald.

"Prof Whitehouse said parents should not be overly worried if their two-year-olds did not have a good vocabulary. "They are not programmed for a life of misery," he said."

While it appears that a minority of these kids might go on later to be not normal, it will surely be reassuring to parents of late talking toddlers that the odds are that their child will simply grow out of their delay in development and any of the behavioural or emotional issues that might be caused by the communication difficulties.

But I'm not giving Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse or child development experts in general a big slap on the back for giving parents this good news, because I know that there is a whole industry and bureaucracy in Australia whose job it is to alarm the parents of babies and toddlers and young children about whether or not their kids are developing at the rate and template of what is deemed by these "experts" as normal and healthy. These are the people who give formal speech development assessments to babies under a year old. These are the people who recommend that very young children be urgently seen by speech pathologists and sundry other allied health professionals in order to start "early intervention" as early as possible, using unproven therapies on young ones for theoretical problems that could well never develop, and things that possibly aren't really a problem, and things that possibly aren't really fixable, at a cost of time, money and stress for vulnerable and already often very over-stretched parents. And in reply to parents who dared to question the necessity of all this drama, the professionals would invariably claim that there is a body of evidence showing that the need and the impact of the intervention are both real. They lied.

I've got to wonder if the findings of this study, which was one of those Western Australian studies done by Telethon Institute for Child Health Research which has had a long association with Prof. Fiona Stanley, has led Associate Prof. Whitehouse to be less committed to the fashionable battle to blast any deviation from "normal" in young children with an urgent dose of early intervention.

"In a separate study published earlier this year, Prof Whitehouse and his team identified a genetic link to delayed language development. They are now looking for biological markers to help identify which children are at risk of language problems so they can be targeted for early intervention programs."

I predict that the early intervention obsession will be a hard habit for the early intervention industry to break, but I'm sure there must be some effective intervention for obsessional behaviour. Cognitive behavioural therapy?....or maybe some anti-depressant medication might be effective?

Most late-talking toddlers turn out ok.
press release
4th July, 2011
Telethon Institute for Child Health Research

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