Covid is impacting the speech and language development in children owing to a lack of in-person support in Oxford, UK. This, along with the reported increase in the waiting period for autism diagnosis, is being attributed to the shift in the way schools and intervention centres are operating since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Aside from the issue of limited access to reliable intervention, the pandemic has also caused an increase in anxiety which has, in turn, negatively impacted speech and language development. Other factors such as increased screen time, decreased interaction with grandparents, social distancing at school, and online learning among others has also led to reduced ability to use speech and language among children.
Nicola Lathey, a speech and language therapist and the founder of Oxford-based therapy centre, The Owl Centre, told Oxford Mail, “The increase in waiting time has gone up massively during the pandemic, there’s an increase in language delay and stammering. It’s been a really difficult time for children to receive the intervention they need.”
The lead consultant at Oxfordshire-based Autism Champions, Dee Nic Sitric, concurred by saying, “When we’re talking speech and language, it’s also about how people communicate and how they’re interacting with their environment.” He went on to explain how over the course of the pandemic, children haven’t been getting the experiences they need, which also includes access to services.
A similar trend was reported by doctors in Hyderabad when they observed the development of autism-like symptoms in children due to a lack of social exposure.