Advocacy » Anecdotes from the Frontlines of Speech-language Therapy » Laura and Isla: “We really need more SLTs”

Laura and Isla: “We really need more SLTs”

Three-year-old Isla has Down Syndrome, which her mother, Laura, says manifests itself in extremely low tone, a large tongue and developmental delay.
When Isla was diagnosed at birth, Laura knew she needed to engage a speech-language therapist (SLT) to help Isla’s language development and her feeding.

She now sees an SLT at the hospital to help with her feeding and a private SLT for her language development.

“Both SLTs are critical to Isla’s development,” Laura says.

But the problem, she says, is getting access to an SLT.

“The hospital assigned us an SLT when Isla was born, so that wasn’t so bad, but it’s very difficult to find an SLT privately in New Plymouth.

“There’s definitely a workforce shortage.”

The same applies with Isla’s ongoing care.

Laura says Isla can’t see either of her SLTs as often as they would like due to their high caseloads.

“It’s great when we can see them, although her hospital SLT hasn’t made clear plans for her ongoing care and lacks the ability to follow up due to a high caseload.

‘It’s also hard to arrange multi-disciplinary team meetings with SLT present for the same reason.”

Isla is still tube-dependent for feeding, and she is still working on her oral motor skills. She hasn’t yet made much progress in this area, Laura says.

“On the upside, her language is coming along so I would say we’ve had some success in this area.

“She will need SLT input long-term but the lack of SLTs makes accessing this service difficult.

“We really need more SLTs, especially ones with experience in tube feeding and working with tube-dependent kids!”

Read more stories