The current COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to drastic lifestyle changes and these effects are noted with the development of young children. With disruptions in school and increased time spent at home away from people, children with speech and language disorders may have more concerns arising. Here is what you need to know:
For a child with delayed/ disordered speech and language and other learning difficulties, regular speech therapy and other forms of medical, educational, and therapeutic intervention is a necessity. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing, children have experienced a disruption in their routine and in some cases even a regression of symptoms. Some of the causes are attributed to:
- Lack of educational intervention: Schools were closed during our lockdown period and reverted to online lessons (mostly private schools) or information and work packs sent home for parents to teach. This is not always feasible as a child is deprived of their tuition with a teacher in a constructive learning environment.
- Lack of Social Interaction: The concept of social distancing has proved challenging for many children. Some children are deprived of their social engagements with friends and family which results in fewer opportunities to communicate and engage with people to develop their communication skills.
- Increase in Screen Time: All children have experienced increased screen time exposure (laptops, TV, tablets, phones etc.) due to more time spent at home and less social interaction. Subsequently, children have become increasingly dependent on-screen time (read how screen time affects your child here).
- Decrease in Speech Therapy: With financial strains, fear of COIVD-19 and limited days and times available for speech therapy, many children have either missed speech therapy sessions or have reduced their sessions. This creates slower progress and longer time spent to help speed up recovery.
- Health Status: Our infection rate for COVID-19 has soared over the weeks and is now becoming less. Many children have picked up the virus and as a result may not have been in the best physical and mental health which can cause a regression in a child’s development.
Here are some suggestions on how you can help your child during this pandemic:
- Going back to school: As school re-opens ensure that your child is ready to get back into their schooling routine. This may be challenging in the beginning however they will adjust and be back on track within their constructive learning environment.
- Scheduling time for learning: As difficult and challenging as it may be, try to schedule some constructive time in the day to read to your child, engage them in stimulating activities and practice doing their speech and language home program provided by your speech therapist. Create routines and reward good behaviour and attention. Decrease screen time as well.
- Explore different options for treatment: Instead of halting your speech therapy sessions, try reducing the number of sessions in the month. Also look at other options such as telehealth options which are online sessions via a virtual platform such as Skype, Zoom etc. The latter will also be more affordable.
- Stay Safe and Alert: Use the pandemic as learning curve to teach your child the do’s and don’ts of COVID-19. Communicate more with your child and address their fears, concerns as their lifestyle has been thrown completely off balance and they always need reassurance.
Stay safe and healthy!