Funding Cuts for PLD – A False Economy?
Recently the Queensland Government announced that it would be cutting its funding to our school, The Glenleighden School, by 22% for the upcoming year. This of course has a significant impact on how we are able to deliver programs, staffing ratios, staff wages and parent tuition fees. An impact that ultimately disadvantages our children. Children who cannot stand up and speak for themselves. Children who without intervention and support, may never be able to form meaningful relationships, may never be able to construct a written or verbal sentence to convey their wants and needs, may never be able to read simple signs, may never be able to fill out forms so that they can access support as an adult, may never be able to have their say. Many children with communication difficulties become frustrated and isolated adolescents, who have difficulty understanding and therefore abiding by society’s rules and regulations. They are often housed in our juvenile detention system, where they begin a lifelong cycle of offending and serving time.
With early intervention this does not have to be the reality. Multidisciplinary support allows these children to develop their language, speech, communication, social and academic skills. Many of these children, after spending time at The Glenleighden School, are able to be integrated into a mainstream school environment, having gained the confidence, resilience and skills to be successful. We see and hear success stories every day of children who have received intensive therapy and academic support from their early childhood years. Students who have graduated mainstream high school, students who have won academic awards over their typically developing peers, students who have fulltime paid employment, students who have completed tertiary study. The list goes on. It is early identification, appropriate early intensive intervention as well as supportive and industrious families that make these one-time dreams possible. Without funding support, what happens to early intervention programs? Where do these children and families find specialist teaching and therapy?
Below are some points made in research articles and papers highlighting how communication disorders continue to affect our children across the lifespan and the impact this has on our government systems:
From Autism’s Hidden Older Brother – Specific Language Impairment
- Autism receives over 30 times more research funding than SLI, despite affecting five times fewer people
- Children with SLI are less likely to complete secondary school, and are more likely to experience long periods of unemployment during adulthood.
- Adults with SLI are at a disturbingly high risk (around 50%) for depressive and anxiety disorders.
From Youth (in)justice: Oral language competence in early life and risk for engagement in antisocial behaviour in adolescence
- High proportions (some 50% in Australian studies) of young offenders have a clinically significant, but previously undetected, oral language disorder.
- Developmental language problems in boys predicted engagement in antisocial behaviour by 19 years of age.
- Antisocial behaviour incurs huge financial costs via usage of welfare, criminal justice and mental health services.
- Overcoming oral language deficits in the early years should be a focus of prevention and early intervention strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of antisocial behaviour.
- The cost of SLP services is modest compared with the cost of supporting a young person who might require state benefits, prison placement, public housing and mental health services over many decades.
So how does this add up? It costs around $693 a day to keep a young offender in detention. A DAY! Yet funding is being cut to our early intervention and educational support programs that give these children the skills to be functional and valuable members of our society? This lack of forward thinking is baffling and a false economy on behalf of the State.
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