My 4 year old, poorly verbal, autistic son Jonathan receives only 6 short speech therapy sessions per YEAR. I work as a Brain Surgeon, and head of a Neurosurgical Department in the UK and, in stark contrast, would expect my stroke patients to receive 3 x 45 minute speech therapy sessions per WEEK.
One out of a hundred children have severe communication difficulties as a result of neurologic disability including autism, and need adequate speech and language therapy. Early intensive speech therapy is vital if we want these children to participate in society. Research evidence and practice in other countries would support such children receiving a minimum of one hour of speech therapy per week. However, many such children in the UK, like Jonathan, receive only a token light touch provision. Ten percent of special needs Tribunals each year, where a parent is put in the position of taking a local authority to court, are about the lack of speech therapy for their disabled child. Baroness Blatch, previous Minister of State for Education, said in the House of Lords in 2002 'if a child requires speech therapy and the frequency of speech therapy sessions is not specified, all too often the child receives perhaps one session per week, which, though wholly inadequate, technically meets the terms of the statement. I know that this matter has been addressed by the Government in recent legislation'. It looks like the issue has got worse not better since Baroness Blatch's speech. All children in the UK who have severe communication difficulties should have a minimum of one hour speech and language therapy per week. Please sign our petition.