One can go on one’s own initiative to a general practitioner, if one has the feeling that there is a problem requiring a speech therapist’s assistance. Besides a doctor at a health centre, teacher, school speech therapist, dentist or  orthodontist can advise you to see a speech therapist. They will explain the problems and why the help of a speech therapist is required.

A doctor’s or a specialist’s referral is required for each treatment by a speech therapist.


It is advisable to see a speech therapist when suffering from hoarseness for longer than a few weeks, when suffering a throat-ache when speaking or losing one’s voice without a clear cause.

If two weeks after having had a flu or cold one’s voice has not fully recovered, it is advisable to consult a medical practitioner, since one can easily acquire a wrong speech pattern.  Damage to the voice can be the result. Usually your family doctor will refer you to the ear, nose and throat specialist, who can determine whether there is damage to the vocal cords.


Speech develops in phases. A three year old child unable to pronounce the r is not deviating form the norm, but at the age of 5or 6, it is. Very important is the question to what extent the deviation bothers you and/or your child.

In case your child speaks very inarticulately, you can consult a speech therapist, already at a child’s very young age (around 3 years). The advantage of such consultation is that a wrong speech pattern can be avoided and making it easier to learn the right pronunciation. If you notice people in your surroundings are not able to hear very well what you say, it can be advisable to take lessons from a speech therapist in order to improve your audibility. When lisping, replacing or omitting sounds or stuttering it is also advisable to take lessons from a speech therapist.


Language develops in steps, but what if something deviates from the norm? Parents usually have a good understanding of their children and intuitively know the standard expected, but if they are worried they should consult a speech therapist.

It is important to watch your child talking baby-talk, learning and using more new words. By the first birthday usually first words like “daddy, mommy, ball, car and bear” are uttered.

Then usually more words will follow. A few months later the child will combine these words, for example “drive car, fall bear”.

This way the command of language will expand.

It is better to consult a speech therapist when a child with language development problems is three years of age than waiting until the child is 5 years old. The back-log is not yet too great and easier to put right. It is also a preventive measure for possible learning problems later in life.


If in doubt about your child’s hearing the best thing is to have the child checked as soon as possible by the family doctor or the doctor at the health centre, so as to avoid speech and or language development problems. The family doctor can, if needed, refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist, who can diagnose and possibly treat the child. Depending on the problem, a speech therapist can be involved in hearing training, improvement of pronunciation, language training of improvement of the voice.

Oral motor system

In case of an abnormal oral motor system due to too weak muscles in the mouth area, it is advisable to consult a speech therapist. Often the mouth remains slightly open. The tongue lies deep in the mouth and sometimes even against or between the teeth. Speech therapy can also be of help when eating is a problem caused by underdeveloped chewing muscles or over-sensitiveness/under-sensitiveness of the oral cavity. The open bite and overbite of the teeth can be reduced by training the right oral muscles (and stop the habit of sucking thumbs and/or fingers; also the use of sippy cups and bottles should be avoided).