The Impact Of The Pandemic On My Children’s Development

AD While the world may be trying it’s best to move on from the Coronavirus pandemic there is no doubt that the impact is still being felt in many ways. My son turned 1 shortly before the UK went into it’s first lockdown, my middle daughter was at nursery and my eldest was in Year 3. Over night our world shrank and instead of going to baby groups, nursery or even meeting up with friends we were at home every day. At 1 and 4 my younger children were both at key ages for learning basic skills like talking, communication and socialisation and, looking back, it’s easy for me to see how significantly they were affected. Even my son’s mobility was impacted due to staying at home with his ability to run and jump and stamina for walking all significantly behind his sisters’ at the same age. 

Yes children naturally develop at different rates, but there is a growing body of evidence showing the delays on babies and children’s early development due to lockdowns, social distancing and the reduction in face to face interactions. 

Lockdowns, social distancing, home schooling and face masks have all have an impact on children's development

2 years after that first lockdown and my children have caught up in some areas: my son can now walk normal distances for his age and finally having a full year in the classroom (in Year 1) has made a huge difference to my daughter’s ability to form friendships and interact with others compared to a year ago. There are areas where it is taking longer to catch up though and I think these are areas which need more regular and sustained effort to improve: talking, reading and writing. 

Identifying Developmental Speech Delays and Additional Needs

My son has attended part time nursery for the last 18 months. His speech has hugely improved in this time, but it is still slightly behind what is expected for his age. He isn’t alone though. When my daughters were at nursery I don’t remember hearing any conversations about speech delays, but I now regularly talk to parents who are concerned about their children. And that’s just the parents who suspect there are problems.

Unless you are a childcare professional or have had a lot of experience around young children there is a good chance you won’t know what their expected milestones are. It can also be hard to compare your child to their peers now you are less likely to be invited into nursery. My son is part of a generation who seem particularly shy around people they don’t know so I only hear a handful of children his age talking which, again, makes it hard to get a frame of reference for the level his peers are at. 

At my son’s 2 to 3 year check with the Health Visitor (via video call) he met the minimum requirements for communication skills, however his key worker at nursery who had spent a significant amount of time with him assessed his language skills at the same time (using the EYFS Framework) as in the 16-26 months range at 34 months and we agreed a number of actions to help support his speech development.

Pages from a nursery scrapbook with EYFS evidence on child's development
Attending nursery has helped with my son's speech development, but he is still behind his peers

What To Do If You Are Worried Your Child Has A Speech Delay

If you feel that your child may have a speech delay then it is helpful to get them assessed as soon as possible and get the right advice on how to help them. 

Options For Accessing Support

  • If your child is in a childcare setting like a nursery, school or childminder they are a useful first point of contact and may be able to confirm or reassure you about your child’s attainment against their expected level. They may offer additional support for their development such as one to one exercises.
  • You can speak to your Health Visitor for advice, but for specialised help Speech and Language therapists are likely to be more helpful. 
  • Your childcare provider, Health Visitor or Children’s Centre should be able to let you know what NHS Speech and Language services are available in your area and how to access them. 
  • You could also consider getting private help eg an assessment, coaching and exercises from Noala Hub.

In an ideal world the NHS should be able to provide the help children with a speech delay need, but in my recent experience they are struggling with the large increase in demand on their services and they have to prioritise the more severe cases and those reaching school age. Younger children, especially pandemic babies who are nearly twice at risk of communication developmental delays are unlikely to be prioritised yet, but intervention now can make a big difference. This is where private support can really help.

a toddler with speech delay in the garden
Should you consider private help for your child's speech delay?

About Noala Hub

Noala Hub offers an online speech assessment with a Speech and Language Professional. We had an assessment with Chloe who patiently worked though the assessment with my son and I. This was challenging at times because my son kept running off and hiding, a tactic he uses when he is finding things difficult, but we managed to complete the assessment in the end. The 45 minute session covers the case history, an assessment of how well your child can understand language and communicate, and a conclusion. You can choose to receive a written and signed report too.  

It is recommended that you have an assessment first, but you can instead choose to access the Noala Hub 6 week program or a monthly subscription with access to exercises, prerecorded coaching videos to help you work with your child and unlimited access to Speech and Language Professionals via secured messaging. These should help you feel more confident to work with your child to progress their language skills.

Community Offer

If you are interested in giving Noala Hub a try I have special offers for my readers:

  • Save 20% on a subscription with promo code COUNTINGTOTEN20 when you sign up to Noala Hub and choose a subscription plan.
  • Save 50% on an online assessment when you say you were referred by "Counting to Ten" at the time of booking. 
  • You can also book a free 10 minute session with the Noala speech language therapist.

Disclosure: I am working with Noala Hub on a long term collaboration, but all thoughts are my own.

No comments

Thanks for your comment (unless it's spam in which case, why?)