The pre-school years

We know from many brain development studies that the peak period for speech and language development is from birth to four years. This means that the sooner help is sought from a speech pathologist for a child with a speech, language or other communication difficulty, the more likely he/she is to have a positive outcome from speech pathology intervention. Ideally, all children should be screened for speech and language readiness before they start kindergarten (approximately 3 1/2 to 4 years). In Western Australia, if children were screened prior to school enrolment using tools such as the Middleton Early Language Screening Test, children with significant difficulties could be identified for timely referral to Language Development Centres where they could receive intensive intervention during their pre-school years. Children with milder difficulties could be managed by Private or Public Speech Pathology services so they could start formal schooling and literacy instruction with a good oral langauge foundation. Oral language skill is the greatest predictor of literacy outcomes.

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