Almost 12 000 Irish children are waiting for speech and language assessment
At the moment, there are nearly 11,600 children waiting for their initial speech and language assessment in Ireland, according to Freedom of Information figures released to Newstalk earlier this month.
And of these almost 12.000 children, as many as 450 of them have been waiting longer than two years for their speech and language therapy to begin, while a whopping 1,300 Irish children are waiting longer than a year to be seen by a speech and language therapist.
These are truly shocking numbers, and former Irish Medical Organisation President, Dr Martin Daly, says the figures are completely unacceptable.
“Children who have needs that need to be addressed early in their lives to improve both their quality of life and also their future development have been left waiting on this where there is no certainty about being seen,” Daly told Newstalk listeners.
“We are seeing this is general practice and not just in this area but also in other allied health professions. It is emblematic of what is happening in the community.”
'A big impact on a child’s development'
The Freedom of Information figures also reveal that child thousands of children are waiting for their initial assessment appointment to take place, as many as 5,538 children have been assessed but are still waiting up to several years for their first therapy session to take place.
This, says Daly, can end up having a big impact on a child’s development.
“Firstly, there is the anxiety and the worry it causes parents and then it sets back their development so not only are there issues around their education al development but there are also issues around the possibility of them having physical problems because of their swallowing problems," he explains.
“So, there are very considerable risks for children who are left for up to two years.”
The figures released to Newstalk also revealed which areas have the longest waiting list for speech and therapy assessment, with south Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford coming out worst.
Here, 343 children have been waiting for over two years for their first therapy session.