How to budget if your child needs help

2019-06-05 06:00
PHOTO: sourced

PHOTO: sourced

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FROM ADHD to dyslexia and speech delay, here’s what you need to know about the importance of getting the right diagnosis and treatment for your child.

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While you’ve prepared for the cost of nappies, childcare and school fees, you might not have considered the costs involved in the diagnosis and treatment of remedial or learning difficulties.

ADHD assessment and medication

ADHD is a label given to many children, but often without the proper diagnosis — which incidentally requires parents to invest a fair amount of time and money.

“ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects executive functioning such as attention and working memory,” says Cape Town-based educational psychologist Abigail Simpson.

“There are different forms of ADHD and therefore the presentation is not always the same in all children. You have those that are more inattentive (often described as ‘daydreamers’); the hyperactive type, which is often easier to pick up on; and then there is the impulsive type — these children are not able to manage their reactions both verbally and physically.”

If your child displays behaviour associated with ADHD, Simpson recommends having them assessed by an educational psychologist — and the earlier the intervention, the better.

Expert help can come with a hefty price tag. In fact, you can expect to pay between R4 500 and R6 500 for an assessment. Fortunately, some medical aids do cover a portion of the costs so always check before booking the appointment.

“It may seem like a lot of money but an assessment is a very detailed process — in my private practice, for instance, I dedicate up to five hours to one client for an assessment and the post-assessment report can take anything between three to five hours to compile,” says Simpson.

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, medication may be prescribed, which will add to your monthly expenses.

According to Health-e News, Ritalin can cost anywhere between R367 for 10mg, and R942 for 40mg of long-acting Ritalin, which is the dose generally prescribed for teens and adults.

Concerta is an alternative medication but more expensive, ranging from R858 for 18mg to R1 066 for 54mg.

Dealing with dyslexia

Another learning difficulty that can cause children to fall behind in school and result in low self-confidence is dyslexia.

“The important thing to note is that you cannot diagnose dyslexia unless your child has been in formal schooling (Grade 1 and 2) and their reading level is significantly weaker than expected for their IQ score,” says Simpson.

Dyslexia screening assessments look at language delays, word recall, naming speed, letter and sound identification, and phonetic skills. These are scored and a child is rated as “at risk” or “low risk”.

“It’s not a straightforward process and that’s why seeing the correct practitioner who knows their stuff is advised,” says Simpson.

A remedial therapist can do an initial screening but an educational psychologist is best equipped to make a formal diagnosis.

If your child does, in fact, have dyslexia, there are different ways of helping them and your course of action will depend on the severity of their dyslexia.

Sessions with a remedial teacher can be very helpful and will cost between R200 to R400 a session depending on the area you live in. Alternatively, you can download helpful reading apps and do extra phonetics homework with your child.

Delayed speech

When it comes to speech, it’s not always easy to detect a delay, particularly in very small children.

“When your child is between one and three years old, it is difficult to judge whether they have difficulties or are simply developing differently to the children around them,” says speech therapist Rachel Singleton from Small Talks Speech Therapy Centre in Joburg.

“A good rule of thumb is that by the age of three, most people should understand what they are saying and they, in turn, should be able to understand what the people around them are saying.”

She adds that there are a number of red flags parents can look out for.

“Toddlers who are delayed in speaking and who seem frustrated when they are trying to talk, or who have poor eye contact or struggle to follow simple directions, may need speech therapy.

“Children who struggle to interact and play appropriately with friends and siblings or take a long time to begin and complete tasks may also need some assistance,” says Singleton.

If you decide to take your child for an assessment, the speech therapist will first gather information from the parents and teacher before conducting a series of tests to evaluate all areas of speech and language development.

The cost of sessions depends on the practitioner but many charge medical aid rates and you can expect to pay anywhere between R275 for 20 minutes and R325 for 45-minute sessions. — Parent24.

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