CDI report urges early intervention
The Tallaght-based Childhood Development Initiative (CDI) has called for the establishment of a early intervention speech and language therapy service in disadvantaged areas.
A CDI report, published today, suggested early intervention services could help reduce disadvantage in pre-school children before they begin their formal education.
The report based its findings on how a pilot early intervention scheme had improved outcomes for children in Tallaght West since 2007.
The service provided therapeutic support to 157 children who the CDI said would have not likely been identified and supported otherwise.
Of those 157 children, 18 per cent were discharged as their skills had improved to a normal standard after a period of support.
The scheme would be equally beneficial in communities around the country, according to CDI chief executive Marian Quinn.
“It is well-established that speech and language development can be of particular concern in disadvantaged areas and if this in not addressed by the time these children start primary school, it caused difficulties for later literacy and learning,” she said.
“As well as the development of dedicated services for disadvantaged communities, we are recommending that all early years practitioners, teachers and related professionals receive appropriate training in speech and language development.”
The report, which was independently evaluated by the Centre for Social and Educational Research at Dublin Institute of Technology, also highlighted the important roles parents play.
“Educating parents on the need for and value of speech and language therapy is vital to promoting attendance at speech and language services. Also, services are responsible for ensuring that parents are appropriately informed and involved in their child’s therapy process,” Ms Quinn said.
Parent Michelle McKeon said her son Conor only had a lexicon of 20 words at two before he started speech and language therapy, but is much better now.
“He is now in junior infants and is at the level he should be,” she said.
Also speaking at the launch, veteran broadcaster Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh said he was impressed with the children attending the launch.
“They are very young, but I could see they were very confident,” he said.