Look who’s talking

• Karen Nitsche and daughter Ella. Photo supplied

WORRIED about a growing number of youngsters who are late to talk, Bateman speech pathologist Karen Nitsche enlisted five Murdoch University students to help develop a “talkable toddlers” app.

Research shows one-in-five two year olds are late to talk, “which can affect later literacy and academic success.”

Brain research

Talking to a baby from day one is the basis for the skills necessary to succeed in life, Nitsche says.

The Talkable toddlers app is a parent training video with tutorials, book sharing, key word signing and language learning tips.

“The whole point is to make it affordable to parents, and to get the word out there it’s not rocket science,” Nitsche says.

“You talk to your baby, you read to your baby, you have fun with your baby.”

Brain research has shown there are critical periods of language development in the early years of a child’s life.

“The quality of parent-child interactions during these years has a big impact on a child’s language development,” Nitsche says.

Private speech therapy is expensive, and there’s up to an 18 month waiting list in the public sector.

“Unfortunately not all families have access to private speech pathology services and often face lengthy waits for public services, meaning that they don’t always receive help when their child needs it most,” Nitsche says.

The app is aimed at parents, grandparents and child care workers.

“With more parents going back to work we need to allow child care workers to understand the need for these things.”

Nitsche has applied for the City of Melville’s Project Robin Hood grant, with $100,000 up for grabs for community projects.

“Which would enable me to provide a free program aimed to enrich the language learning opportunities of children in the first three years of life,” she says.

For more information go to http://www.talkable.org.au.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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