Parents speech therapy anguish

PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 August 2001 | UPDATED: 15:16 03 March 2010

PARENTS of a Trimley St. Mary tot fear their child's education could be ruined because of a shortage of speech therapists.

Page 17 lead with pix . . . . .By Jessica Nicholls

PARENTS of a Trimley St. Mary tot fear their child's education could be ruined because of a shortage of speech therapists.

Susan and Mark Cuthbert have been fighting for a year to try to get a speech therapist to see their three-year-old son Joseph.

Until recently the youngster from St. Mary's Close was thought to be suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

That has since been discounted and specialists have now diagnosed Expressive Language Delay and Challenging Behaviour.

The disorder means that he cannot express himself properly to people and although he is nearly four years old he has the language capabilities of a two-year-old.

Mrs Cuthbert said: "He gets very frustrated and tries to make you repeat everything so he knows you have understood him.

"He is getting better and his family can just about understand what he is saying.

"But strangers often cannot understand him and he then gets upset and won't try anymore."

Joseph has now started taking his frustration out on the people around him.

Mrs Cuthbert said: "When he is at playgroup he is known as a model pupil because he is very quiet and he does not really have a lot to do with the other children.

"But on holiday it was a nightmare as there were lots of other children around and his way of communicating with them was to hit them.

"I think it was his way of saying to them, I am here please don't ignore me."

Mrs Cuthbert said that a child psychologist has confirmed that Joseph should see a speech therapist as soon as possible.

She said: "He is already so far behind his peers.

"Next year he will be going to the early years school and if he does not get help soon he will fall even further behind.

"He is an intelligent child with a good, logical brain and I don't want that to happen."

After a long search, Mrs Cuthbert eventually managed to find a speech therapist in Felixstowe in February who reviewed Joseph and enrolled Susan and Mark in a Hanen group to show them how to teach Joseph from home.

But the group moved to Stowmarket and with three children it became impossible for them to get to the weekly sessions.

They have just found out that they have an appointment with a speech therapist in September but this is only a review and Mrs Cuthbert said it does not mean that Joseph will start any treatment yet.

She said: "Speech therapy is such an important part of a child's development.

"It is the way we communicate and without therapy, children with problems will just get left behind."

A spokesman for the Local Health Partnership said that they were unaware of the child care problems suffered by the Cuthberts when they were placed on the Hanen course and said that they received no written notice from the family that they would not be attending the course again.

He said: "This is usually the first strand of treatment – rather than them just getting an hour a week with a specialist, if the parents can carry on the treatment at home it is more effective.

"If anyone is in the situation where they cannot find any child care, LHP would what they could to come to some arrangement."

He added that there was a national shortage of Speech and Language therapists at the moment and despite three national adverts being placed for the Felixstowe and Woodbridge vacancy it had still not been filled.

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