The Ministry of Education employs speech-language therapists who support children with speech, language and communication needs.
The support focuses on building the capability of family, whānau and educators to support the child’s ability to communicate effectively in their daily life. Speech- language therapists work with both children in the early years and when children are at school.
Children may benefit from support where the family, whānau or educators are concerned that:
- the child’s talking is very hard to understand
- the child’s language skills are below the levels expected for their age, for example, they can talk only in short sentences or their word order in sentences is mixed up
- the child finds it hard to follow verbal instructions
- if the child speaks more than 1 language, difficulties are reported across all the languages they speak
- the child has difficulty developing social skills, for example, they find it hard to have a conversation with other children and adults who they know well
- the child has a stutter, for example, they repeat words or parts of words or get stuck on words
- the child has a problem with their voice that makes it hard for them to talk, for example, they might have an extremely husky voice or keep losing their voice
- the child has difficulty participating in conversations in early learning or at school, such as negotiation in group work, working collaboratively or demonstrating their learning
- the family, whānau or educators aren't sure about the best ways to support the child’s achievement and wellbeing.
If a child has speech, language and communication needs, the speech-language therapist will talk with the child’s family, whānau and educators about the best ways to support the child. The plan could include:
- cultural support for the child, whānau, educators and speech-language therapist
- ideas and strategies for the educators to support the child in the early learning service, school or kura kaupapa māori
- ideas and strategies for the family and whānau to support the child at home
- advice and guidance for everyone supporting the child on how things are going and whether the plan is on track.