There are hundreds of products and services out there for children with language, reading and/or learning difficulties. Some are breathtakingly expensive. Many are marketed with flashy brochures and websites, complete with photos of happy kids and glowing parent testimonials. But looks can be deceiving – especially on the Internet. Not all programs are backed up by objective research proving they work. Some use marketing tactics that prey on parents’ fears and hopes for their children. And cost alone is not a reliable sign of quality.
So how can you tell whether a product or service recommended for your child has been proven to work?
1. Check out MUSEC’s Briefings: Hands down, one of our favourite resources. The Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC) publishes regular briefings as a community service to inform special educators, speech pathologists and others about the evidence-base for a range of educational services and products currently marketed in Australia, including:
- The CellField Program
- Irlen Tinted Lenses and Overlays
- Facilitated Communication
- Fast ForWord;
- CogMed; and
- Reading Recovery.
Each briefing summarises a selected product or service, critiques the evidence-base supporting it, and advises whether they recommend it based on the evidence reviewed.
2. Ask a professional who is not getting a commission to sell you the product or service: Reputable health and education professionals will tell you:
- if the product or service is backed by evidence (if they don’t know, they are trained in how to find out);
- whether other treatments are available with better evidence and/or for a lower cost; and
- whether they stand to receive a commission or other payment for recommending or selling you the product or service.
If you’re not sure whether the professional recommending the treatment is getting a commission, ask them. If so, get a second opinion before opening your wallet.
So, before you fork out for a treatment or product that claims it can help your child with his or her language or learning difficulty, spend 10 minutes on the MUSEC site and run it by your trusted health or education professional.
- Banter Speech & Language Evidence-Based Practice
- Looking for help with speech, language, literacy, voice or stuttering issues? Ask questions. Know your rights
Banter Speech & Language is owned and managed by David Kinnane, a Hanen- and LSVT LOUD-certified speech-language pathologist with post-graduate training in the Spalding Method for literacy, the Lidcombe and Camperdown Programs for stuttering, and Voicecraft for voice disorders. David is also a Certified PESL Instructor for accent modification.
David holds a Master of Speech Language Pathology from the University of Sydney, where he was a Dean’s Scholar. David is a Practising Member of Speech Pathology Australia and a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP).