Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my child needs speech and language therapy? What are the signs my child needs speech and language therapy?
When is the right age to start speech and language therapy? Is my child too young to start speech and language therapy?
Timing is everything. The sooner a child accesses speech and language therapy the better. Even in infancy Optima Speech Therapy can offer specialised advice to advance communication development. If you suspect your child’s talking, speech or language is delayed feel free to discuss your concerns with our expert here. There is also information available on the charts here which provide you with a guide on development appropriate for your child’s age.
The Optima Speech and Language Therapist offers treatment that can be life-changing, support and care for children of all ages with speech, language and communication difficulties. These difficulties may be due to physical or psychological reasons. Speech and Language Therapists are part of the allied health professionals group and may also be referred to as Speech and Language Pathologists, SLPs, SLTs and SALT.
Children may experience difficulties with listening, speaking and engaging in school. This can make accessing the curriculum challenging. Difficulties in understanding or expressing themselves may lead to misinterpreting social cues and trouble initiating interactions with friends. The above can be targeted through speech and language therapy and it will help to involve the teacher or carer with the therapy techniques.
Is the Optima Speech and Language Therapist fully qualified? How can I check your Speech and Language Therapy qualifications?
Speech is a verbal message that communicates information. It has three elements:
- Articulation is how we use our tongue, teeth, lips and cheeks to shape sounds.
- Voice is how we use vocal cords (where your Adam’s apple is) to change the exhaled breath coming out of our lungs into a sound.
- Fluency is how the sounds and words flow when we are talking.
Language includes gestures, body language, writing and signing in addition to talking. It can be divided into how we express (expressive language) and receive (receptive language) information. The aspects of language are:
- Phonology is how we combine sounds to make a meaningful word e.g. c-a-t.
- Morphology is we make new words to convey a different meaning e.g. slow, slower, slowest.
- Semantics is the specific meaning of words, phrases and sentences e.g. the word ‘run’ has different meanings depending on the rest of the words in the sentence. a) The boy ran up the hill. b) Careful, the dye may run. c) I have a run in my stockings. d) The river has run its course.
- Syntax is how we order the words in a sentence to change meaning e.g. ‘The dog chased the cat’ or ‘The cat chased the dog’. These sentences use the same words in a different order but the meaning is very different.
- Pragmatics is how we use different language depending on the social situation e.g. ‘The project sounds extremely interesting’ (to the boss) ‘Yeah this work thing sounds cool’ (to a friend).
The diagram below helps to show that expressive language includes talking and writing, while receptive language includes listening and reading. Both aspects are types of communication.
A language delay means the child is developing language typically but at a slower rate. A language disorder is when a child’s language is developing in an unusual or unexpected way.
My child can’t say some words properly. Is this normal or should he/she have speech and language therapy?
The sounds in speech develop at different ages. Some sounds are more difficult and develop when children are a bit older e.g. ‘d’ is an easier sound, while ‘r’ may not develop until age 7. Have a look at the charts here for a guide of what to expect depending on age. If you are not sure please ask our expert here.
This may indicate a difficulty. We would suggest referring your child to us to be sure. It may help to have a look at the charts here to understand why your family are having difficulties understanding your child. These charts gives you a general guide of what to expect from children your child’s age. If you are not sure please ask our expert here.
My child doesn’t seem to understand what I’m asking him/her to do. Does he/she have a problem with understanding?
Children who do not seem to follow what they are being asked to do may have a problem with hearing, attention or understanding. It could also be a combination of these. The first step is to visit your doctor to have a hearing check-up. Your doctor may refer your child for a hearing test with an Audiologist. As many as 25% of children may experience a type of hearing loss which may result from an ear infection or glue ear. Once a hearing issue has been ruled out or treated then a speech and language therapist can assess your child’s understanding of language and level of attention and listening.
Before learning to read and write children develop an awareness of sounds (known as Phonological Awareness). Speech and language therapists can help children develop this skill using a number of techniques including teaching rhyme generation and recognition, sound manipulation such as blending and segmenting, syllables and sound placement recognition. The strong link between a child’s Phonological Awareness and reading development means the Irish school curriculum currently focuses on phonological awareness.
All behaviours communicate something. So called ‘acting out’ behaviour can communicate frustration with difficulties understanding or with being able to express thoughts and feelings. It may appear children are misbehaving when they simply have not understood what the parent/teacher has said.
Disorganisation can result if children are not sure what is expected of them, or if they find planning and following instructions challenging. They may try to guess, or they may copy other children as a coverup.
The words stammer and stutter mean the same thing. Speech and language therapy can help with a stammer by targeting acceptance. The research shows the stammer will lessen when there is less stress and attention drawn to the stammer.
For more information click the links below.
Why should I choose Optima Speech Therapy? What is the difference between private and public Speech and Language Therapy treatment?
The Therapists qualifications are the same whether you see a private or public Speech and Language Therapist. You can access Optima Speech Therapy immediately, while there may be a wait for public services. Optima Speech Therapy also offers more flexibility as it is not based on resource availability and can continue as long as needed. Private therapy can also facilitate and treat your child while waiting for public services, and can be used to complement and follow on from public services.
There is currently no waiting list at Optima Speech Therapy. As soon as the completed self-referral and payment have been received, a personalised plan will be made for you. This process only takes a few working days.
Yes, you can. Therapists should always work together to help your child. It is a good idea to let both therapists know, so they can work out a plan and clarify therapy goals.
My child has had a public assessment and is now waiting for therapy to begin. Can we still come to Optima Speech Therapy?
Yes absolutely. The Home Programme you receive from Optima Speech Therapy aims to complement any therapy your received from public services. A separate assessment may be required if the public assessment was completed more than 8 weeks ago. You may find the public service is no longer needed at all or for a shorter course depending on how your child responds to their Home Programme. If your public Speech and Language Therapists asks for a report of the treatment with Optima Speech Therapy, this can be provided for an additional €50.
Optima Speech Therapy does not currently offer direct face-to-face therapy. Therapy is carried out at home by parents or carers using the personalised home programme under instruction directly from Kate, Speech and Language Therapist.
Can the speech and language therapy home programme be used to advance children with no difficulties?
If your child does not have any difficulties, there is no reason why the skills targeted by the Optima Home Programme will not develop naturally. Using the home programmes is not detrimental to children with no identified difficulties, and may even have beneficial qualities in problem solving, following instructions and literacy development.
As a personalised treatment, this will vary depending on the individual. There are many influencing factors including the point at which your child is starting from, and environmental factors such as integrating the techniques into daily living. Each level of the Home Programme takes two weeks to complete, and the Home Programme includes enough material for three months of speech therapy. The daily activities only take 15 minutes, and there are other activities and techniques included that can be used in daily life to reinforce the learning from the Home Programme.
Your child’s Home Programme is personalised specifically to their needs. The programme consists of levels that increase in complexity and encourage your child to use their new skills in more advanced ways.
Each level takes two weeks to complete using a daily task. Each daily task takes 15 minutes to complete. Additional activities and techniques are also provided that you are encouraged to build into everyday life to reinforce the programme learning. The more frequently techniques are applied, the more learning opportunities you provide for your child. Your child’s progress is monitored under Kate’s expert skills at every level.
All the exercises and activity materials are included in the programme. Other common items required such as a pen, coloured pencils and scissors are not included. The accompanying instruction booklet gives you step-by-step instructions for each exercise and activity so it is best to read the corresponding page before starting the exercise with your child. If anything is unclear you can ask us here for clarification. (YouTube video Tutorials)
Yes! Read the research here. The level of success is dependent on many factors including the difficulty being targeted in therapy, how your child responds to therapy, the amount of technique implementation and practice carried out. You can also read a systematic review by Tosh, Arnott et al. (2017) concluding that:
“Results indicated that home programs and traditional therapy have similar effectiveness in improving speech and language outcomes and were more effective than no intervention. The included studies suggested that home programmes can be effective if the dosage/intensity of the intervention is similar to or exceeds traditional therapy…”
Reference: Tosh, R., Arnott, W., et al. (2017). International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 52(3), 253-269.
It is easier to monitor progress and become more familiar with the techniques if the same person carries out the programme, but it is important for all the people involved with the child’s care to be familiar with and implement the techniques. This will aid learning transference into everyday life situations (known as generalisation).
You can make a direct self-referral to Optima Speech Therapy by clicking here. If you plan to make a claim with a health insurer please check your policy as there may be specific conditions to your claim.
I don’t know if I need to make a self-referral? How do I know if Speech and Language Therapy is needed?
All children develop at different rates. If you are unsure, we have information on the charts here which provide you with a guide on childhood development by age. This information is a guide so if you are worried please contact our expert here or talk to your doctor. Your child’s teacher may also be able to offer a valuable insight into how your child is progressing.
No, you can make a direct self-referral request to Optima Speech Therapy by clicking here. Referrals are also accepted from doctors, teachers, public health nurses and other professionals with parental consent. If you plan to make a claim with a health insurer please check your policy as there may be specific conditions to your claim.
Do I need to prepare anything before making a self-referral? What information is needed for the self-referral?
The more details you can send on the self-referral the better. We specifically need examples of the difficulty you have noticed and details of what your concerns are. Click here to make a self-referral.
We accept payment through credit card or PayPal. Please click here to make your self-referral and payment.
In Ireland you can claim tax back by submitting a MED1 form available from your local tax office along with the receipt issued from Optima Speech Therapy.
You can find more information on categories and definitions of conditions at this website here.
Empowering parents with an original, proactive, and easy-to-use speech therapy service at home.