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New Zealand Children Are Going Untreated

For Immediate Release

13 May 2005

New Zealand children are going untreated

One in seven New Zealanders have a problem understanding others or being understood by other people. A suspected 120,000 children in New Zealand suffer from some form of difficulty with speech or language.

"With only one speech language therapist for every 1,277 people with a communication and/or swallowing difficulty, many of these children do not get seen early enough," says Lucy McConnell Speech Language Therapist for The University of Auckland's Listening and Language Clinic.

The University's Faculty of Science started a new programme in 2003 to train more speech language therapists, who are desperately needed. This new programme has led to the development of the Listening and Language Clinic situated at the University's Tamaki Campus in Glen Innes.

"There can be long waiting lists for children who have moderate to severe speech language problems. This means that children with mild cases are often not able to be seen in the public system," says Lucy.

Language difficulties that are undetected or untreated can often lead to learning and behavioural problems, which can be avoided if detected and treated early enough.

"Often when children are diagnosed with speech, language and listening problems, recommendations are made but parents find it difficult to follow the suggestions without professional support. In order to help solve these problems the Clinic offers management and guidance to parents, other professionals such as the children's teachers and also the children," says Lucy.

The Listening and Language Clinic not only provides services for children with language impairments and speech difficulties but it is also the first clinic in New Zealand to have a specialist interest in providing speech and language services for children with Auditory Processing Disorders.

There is an increasing number of children being diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder or difficulties in listening and interpreting speech information, especially when it is presented in a noisy classroom.

"Having a specialised focus in this area at the Listening and Language Clinic will enable children to be better and more readily treated."

Lucy says the University Clinic has great resources to call on. The University's Speech Science programme is currently researching optimal treatment methods for Auditory Processing Disorders.

"Location within a University means the Clinic has access to the latest research, specialist equipment, diagnostic therapies and experienced speech language therapists making it one of the leading speech language therapy clinics in New Zealand."

The Clinic, located in the Population Health Complex at the University's Tamaki Campus, offers services to the public at competitive prices.


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