Speech therapy for all disabled kids

JULIA Medew (The Age, 22/8) highlighted the need for speech therapy for children with autism. But speech therapy is an issue for all children with disabilities and their families. Children with autism actually have access to more than twice the funding for therapy than those with other disabilities.

Children who are unable to walk or talk, and who have profound learning and/or physical disabilities have about one-quarter of the service provided to them 10 to 15 years ago. The autism funding is a great start, but all the other children have been left behind. Parents have lobbied to get the additional autism funding but those I work with are too tired to get political, so their children miss out.

Government funding for a preschool child with a disability pays for about one hour of therapy a fortnight - a drop in the ocean for the child needing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and specialist teaching support.

Therapists and teachers no longer have time to do detailed assessments, to spend time developing a rapport with the child, and to provide a good service to families. Thus, staff leave this area of therapy in droves, as it is so unsatisfying to be doing so little to meet the needs of children and their families.

Meredith Fordyce, occupational therapist, West Heidelberg

from http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/letters/false-premise-of-league-tables-20090823-ev0z.html?page=-1

Comments

a fairly incoherent response

This was a fairly incoherent response. 

  • there is no basis for the claim that "Children with autism actually have access to more than twice the funding for therapy than those with other disabilities"
  • much more should be made of the points that "Children ... have about one-quarter of the service provided to them 10 to 15 years ago" and it is much more the case that services for children with autism are catching up rather than "all the other children have been left behind"
  • A relatively small number of "Parents have lobbied to get the additional autism funding" ... most parents of a disabled child "are too tired to get political". However, as a result of a few active parents it is less likely that other children will "miss out". It is easier now for other parents of children with any disability to say I want that too.
  • yes, the level of therapy is a "a drop in the ocean" compared to their needs ... but that doesn't means they should be deprived of even just a drop.
  • more should be made of the point that "staff leave [speech] therapy in droves, as it is so unsatisfying to be doing so little to meet the needs of children and their families" if there is evidence to back this claim.
  • the author neglects to mention that speech therapy/pathology staff get seriously inadequate training in therapy for children with autism, which also contributes to their unsatisfying work experience.