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Majority of stuttering pre-schoolers don’t get help

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A study by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) has found that more than half of children with communication problems do not get the professional help they need.

The study, Child: Care, Health & Development, has found a high incidence of language problems for children that have been studied since birth for the Early Language in Victoria Study conducted at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute starting in 2003. More than a quarter of the children, or 26.3 per cent, had at least one communication problem, either with speech, language or involving stuttering.

According to the study, more than half (55.1 per cent) of the children who had communication problems did not receive any professional help, while 7 per cent of the children who did not have any form of communication impairment received professional help.

Among key findings in the survey conducted was the fact that professional help had been sought by parents. It was reported that parental concern was the biggest factor for getting help, as children who have concerned parents have nine time more chances of getting help, whether they really need it or not.

Lead researcher Dr Jemma Skeat said that although children get the help they need this way, parental concern should not be the driver for seeking help, as parents have a tendency to under-recognise communication problems in their children. One example of this is how children with language difficulties often receive less help than those who have more apparent problems, such as stuttering.

Skeat said that parents of children with language problems don’t seek help even if they are advised to do so. She said that their study demonstrates that communication problems are ‘silent disabilities’ that lack priority and detection.

Skeat further enumerated future problems that children may face if they don’t get help with their communication impairment in the early years. These include communication that can affect school achievement, behaviour, and mental health.

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