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Frequently Asked Questions on stuttering, Speech and Language therapy for your child

What skills are expected of my child at each age?

While a number of children experience communication difficulties that are age appropriate and will resolve naturally over time, there are a number who will not naturally outgrow their communication difficulties. Communication challenges may affect your child's confidence and self esteem, in addition to learning and literacy development in the classroom. Research shows more serious matters benefit from early identification and therapy. If your child is experiencing any of the warning signs listed below, it would be worthwhile discussing your child's speech and language development with your child's school/preschool teacher or with a qualified speech pathologist. It's never too early to seek advice, and the earlier difficulties are detected, the better the likely outcome. Therapy could make a real difference to your child's confidence and learning abilities.

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Difficulty understanding what is said to them

  • Uses fewer words than peers of a similar age

  • Uses shorter sentences than peers of a similar age

  • Has a lisp or mispronounces certain sounds when talking

  • Shows signs of frustration when communicating

  • Reluctant to imitate sounds or words

  • Disinterested in communicating with people

  • Stutters (i.e. repeats words or phrases, elongates sounds or has unusual pauses in their speech)

  • Frequently gets a hoarse voice

  • Difficulty learning to read and spell

  • Difficulty with story-telling

As a general guide, by 2 years of age a child should have approximately 50 words and should be joining 2 words together.

By 3 years of age, a child should be speaking in 3-4 word sentences or greater. You should be able to understand what they are saying most of the time and they should understand most of what is said to them. They should be able to follow 2 step directions and answer what?, where? and who? questions.

By 4 years of age, a child should be easily understood by unfamiliar listeners. They should understand what is said to them, including longer and more complex instructions. They engage in a two way conversation, expressing ideas, thoughts, requests and demands. Their sentences should be mostly grammatically correct.

Do I need a referral?

No. Anyone is able to request an appointment even though many individuals are referred.

What is the best age for my child to attend therapy?

Generally, the earlier the better. This is particularly true with language delays, as early intervention may help minimise difficulties during the child's school years.

Will my child's speech get better with time?

For some children their speech may improve naturally but for others it does not. Communication difficulties may lead to frustration, anxiety, poor interaction with others, withdrawal and eventually literacy and learning problems at school.

Is stuttering normal in young children?

A number of children between 2 and 4 years of age experience a period of normal stuttering. However, if your child is repeating parts of words (e.g. "m-m-m-mum"), elongating sounds (e.g. "sssssnake"), avoiding words, experiencing frustration or looks as though it is an effort to say certain words, it is best to seek a professional opinion. Research has shown that therapy is more effective when children are younger.

Should I correct my child's speech errors?

It is helpful to provide a good model for your child to copy after they make a mistake. Say the correct word or sentence a few times after your child, but don't necessarily ask your child to say it again correctly. Don't do this too often if your child gets upset.

What can I expect?

Typically, the initial session consists of collecting a detailed case history from the parent/guardians (which includes discussing your reasons for concern), and completing an assessment with the child. Based on the information gathered in the initial session, recommendations are given in regards to intervention. Options may include regular individual or group therapy, or a home program. Parents are encouraged to be involved in all aspects of therapy. Home practice is also strongly encouraged to ensure faster progress.

Where is therapy conducted?

Therapy can be conducted at a variety of locations including our clinic in Box Hill South, schools, kindergartens or homes.

How much does it cost?

For specific prices and more detailed information, please contact us. In some situations your child may be eligible for funding through Medicare, or if diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, for FaHCSIA funding. Additionally, Speech Pathology services may be covered by your private health insurance fund. Check with your fund for more details.

For more information on the role of speech pathologists, or to find out more information in regards to your child's speech and language development, view the fact sheets on Speech Pathology Australia's website.

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