Frequently Asked Questions

What is the earliest that a child can be referred for Speech Therapy?

A child can be referred for speech therapy at any age, even a premature baby can receive speech therapy. The earlier a child is referred, the better. If a problem exists, it can be dealt with quickly, and the therapy will be preventative rather than curative. The younger children are, the more receptive they are to therapy and the more effective it will be. Early intervention is the key. The longer the wait, the longer the therapy will most likely be, depending on the problem.

When should I bring my child in for speech therapy?

When it comes to Speech Therapy, early intervention is key.

Older children can still benefit from Speech Therapy, as they’ve had more time to establish bad habits they need to break with

If your child has reached age two and hasn’t yet been able to talk or is still only using single words to communicate, it’s time to book an appointment with Corli Hanekom Speech and Language Therapists. 

For how long do you need Speech Therapy?

Every person is unique with his/her own unique speech-related challenges. As a result, your experience with Speech Therapy will be different from anyone else’s.

There are a few different factors that can influence your progress though, including:

  • Type of speech problems
  • Severity of speech problems
  • Your age
  • The frequency of your visits
  • Adherence to your treatment plan
If my child is not using sentences by three years, should I be worried?

Yes, if you have a look at the developmental checklists on one of the links available, you will see that a child should start using sentences around the age of two years, six months. These sentences may consist of words such as “mommy go”, “daddy look”. Remember, for children to be able to combine words to form sentences, they need a big enough one-word vocabulary. Therefore, children should be stimulated with language as much as possible to enrich their vocabulary. A Speech Therapy assessment is advised to get more guidelines.

What can a Speech Therapist do to stimulate a child's speech e.g. premature babies?

A Speech Therapist is skilled in feeding therapy and oral motor stimulation for babies. For a child to become an able speaker and communicator, one of the key factors is adequate movement of the oral muscles (mouth and throat muscles). This can be achieved from an early age through sucking on a bottle or breast while feeding as well as the transfer from fluids to solids and other textures in the mouth. This will stimulate the muscles to grow and become stronger. When a baby has feeding difficulties, it sometimes has to do with the muscles that are not yet well developed. An example can be as in prematurity when the baby has a muscular condition that inhibits him/her to feed well. This can affect later speech and feeding abilities. Therefore, a Speech Therapist can become involved to provide the necessary guidelines and therapy to improve this. For further information on premature feeding, please see the link concerning premature babies.

Why do people stutter?

Stuttering is a neurological condition that is caused by many factors. The two most common factors are (1) if the child has a family member with the same communication disorder that predisposes the child to become a stutterer or (2) if the child has a very sensitive temperament and has been affected by traumatic events in his/her life. Traumatic events include death in the family, moving or divorce or even a new baby. If these risk factors exist and the child shows signs of dysfluency, please consult a Speech Therapist

If my child stutters at the age of three years old, should I be worried?

Some children go through a period of rapid language growth. This is usually also the age when most parents start sending them to nursery schools to start preparing them for the social expectancies of later academic education. The demand of the environment is of such a nature that the child wants to speak like an adult, but is developmentally not ready for that. Then a dysfluency may occur. It is suggested that it be monitored and not focused on. It is important that the child must not be aware of the dysfluency. Some children will use this as a form of seeking attention, and it may cause the stuttering to get worse. If the child reaches the age of five and still stutters, consultation with a Speech Therapist is advised.

When must I start worrying about correct speech?

Children are programmed to develop certain sounds at a certain age according to norms. However, there are some children who become proficient at these sounds earlier or later than these norms. If you are concerned about your child’s pronunciation or the errors interfering with the child’s ability to be understood by others (even the parents), an assessment is warranted.

Why does word finding difficulties happen after a stroke or head injury?

When the left side (hemisphere) of the brain is damaged during a stroke or head injury, the language centre in the brain is affected and word finding difficulties can occur. This is also called aphasia or dysphasia. Symptoms of this can be found by following the links from the home page of this website.

Should I read to my child and why?

To learn to read is probably one of the most important aspects of language development. Parents play an important role in the development of reading in young children, even before they go to school. For your child to perform well at school, it is recommended that a love of books be developed from a young age. Even babies of 9 months old can learn to appreciate and enjoy books.

What possible effect can untreated, chronic ear infections have on my child’s performance at school?

Ear infections may cause a mild hearing loss. This may fluctuate in severity during the course of the infection. This fluctuating hearing loss may influence language use and understanding. If untreated, it may result in inappropriate listening and language skills and influence your child’s ability to follow instructions and to understand and learn about new or advanced language in order to perform academic tasks. Also, frequent ear infections (especially in young children) may cause inappropriate development of speech sounds and also communication difficulties in that he/she will not be understood by others, which adds to their communication frustration.

What advice can be given regarding the prevention and treatment of ear infections from a Speech Therapy point of view?

The most important thing is that parents should not wait too long before treatment is obtained for a child with ear infection. Ear infections are not always marked by discharge from the ears. Parents should also look out for children not reacting appropriately when spoken to (this is not the same as being naughty). Children who scratch or fiddle with their ears excessively may be experiencing pain. If a child is not developing speech sounds correctly, one of the causes may be recurrent ear infections and/or mild hearing loss.

It is recommended that, when these signs appear, a doctor is consulted as soon as possible and if need be the child should be referred to an Ear-, Nose- and Throat Specialist. A Speech Therapist can also be consulted if speech development appears to have been affected.

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