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Speech therapist: Masking led to 364% increase in infant referrals

A US speech therapist has claimed that her clinic has seen a “364% increase in patient referrals of babies and toddlers” due to mass mask-wearing.

Jaclyn Theek, who runs a speech therapy clinic in Florida, told WPBF News (affiliated with ABC News) that before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, only 5% of her clinic’s patients were babies or toddlers. She says this figure has now spiked to 20%.

According to the WPBF report, many parents are calling their children’s speech impairment “Covid delayed.”

“It’s very important kids do see your face to learn, so they’re watching your mouth,” said Theek.

“There’s no research out there yet to say that this could be causing speech and language delays. But most definitely it is, I’m sure, a factor. It’s very important that kids do see your face and watch your mouth to learn.”

Theek continued: “We’re seeing a lot of things that look just like autism. They’re not making any word attempts and not communicating at all with their family.”

Babies start learning how to speak by reading lips as young as 8 months. Therapists say that while some children can work around the mask and still learn to speak normally, in some cases it may cause speech delays.

It should be noted that studies on the effects of masks on children’s development have not yet returned conclusive results, and that these are the findings of a single clinic.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are no clear findings yet, and further research into the matter is needed.

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