Unsure where to find a speech therapist in Hong Kong? Maybe you’re unsure when to seek speech therapy for your child. This guide will help demystify the process.
Speech and language are uniquely human traits that enable people to express their ideas, emotions, needs, and personality and engage in interactions with others. Early childhood is critical to speech development and timely identification of any delay or disorder is very important. So how do you know if your child needs some support with their speech development? Where do you start to seek the help they may need? Here is your guide to speech therapy and speech therapists in Hong Kong.
What Does A Speech Therapist Do?
Speech therapists assess, diagnose and provide treatment for speech and language disorders and delays as well as feeding and swallowing problems. They work with people of all ages as speech delays or disorders can occur for a myriad of reasons. Some of the difficulties they support include articulation, stammering, delayed speech, children who have difficulties interacting (e.g. Autism spectrum disorders), social communication needs, voice difficulties. They can also differentiate whether or not there are issues because a child is growing up with two languages, or whether there is a true language acquisition difficulty. Based on an assessment, the speech therapist will recommend an individual treatment plan to support the patient.
Who Needs Speech Therapy?
Anyone of any age who is experiencing communication challenges (stuttering for example can affect children and adults alike) can benefit from speech therapy. For parents, if you are concerned about your child’s speech development, some general guidelines that indicate it may be beneficial to seek an evaluation from a speech therapist are:
- 18 to 24 months if your child is not speaking any words or has difficulty following simple directions or difficulty engaging with others
- 2 to 3 years if your child is not using more words, putting words together or starting to ask simple questions (Why? Where?)
- 3 to 4 years if they consistently have difficulty pronouncing certain speech sounds or words are stuttering or hesitating when speaking, have difficulty with social communication (initiating or maintaining conversations), or are unable to follow complex (2 or 3-step) instructions
If you have any concerns, it is better to seek advice early and learn more about how to support your child’s speech and language development before there are secondary impacts (like refusing to participate in a class or not wanting to talk). Do not forget that all children develop at their own pace and some may require more time or support than others to reach speech and language milestones.
How To Get A Referral To A Speech Therapist In Hong Kong?
Public Medical System
If you are attending the government’s Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHC) for your child’s vaccinations (which are free!), they conduct regular developmental assessments (vision, hearing, speech, feeding and more) throughout that program for children up to 4 years old. Accordingly, when your child is around 2 years old, if they believe further investigation is required, the MCHC will refer you to a speech therapist within the Hospital Authority.
Private Healthcare System
If you suspect your child might need some help with their speech, you can seek guidance from your paediatrician, GP or any one of the private speech therapy clinics in Hong Kong. Accessing private clinics is by self-referral so you do not need a referral from your GP or paediatrician.
Other Referral Options
A less costly option is to ask your paediatrician or GP to provide a referral to the Child Assessment Service (part of the Department of Health). At the Child Assessment Service, for a nominal fee, your child will be assessed and a management plan will be provided to support your child’s development. Refer to the Department of Health website for more information. There are also some non-governmental organisations such as The Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong and Watchdog Early Education Centre which offer early childhood intervention services including speech therapy.
Speech Therapy Clinics In Hong Kong
Public Healthcare System
At the Public Hospital (referred from MCHC), your child will undergo an assessment with a speech therapist as well as undertake a hearing assessment with an audiologist. If required, you will be provided with information for accessing government-funded speech therapy sessions.
Currently, there are only two centres which can cater for English-speaking children, but there are more services available for Cantonese-speaking children. Some families opt for Cantonese services to access therapy earlier as there may be a longer waitlist for English-speaking services. The therapists will work with your child’s kindergarten or playgroup teachers as needed to support your child’s development.
Talk in Action
Talk in Action is a family-run clinic with a delightful space that is warm and welcoming to children and adults alike. Specialising in working with children growing up in bilingual environments and with great value placed on the parent-child relationship, all patients soon become part of the TIA family too. And who doesn’t love a cuddle with the Pawsitivity Ambassador cats, Soda and Cream!
ENT Laser Hearing and Speech Therapy Centre
Opening in 2003, the professional team of audiologists, speech therapists, ENT specialists and counsellors provides professional hearing and speech therapy services under one roof. The centre also provides school-based speech therapy services to countless kindergarten, primary and secondary schools across Hong Kong.
Brighten Development & Therapy Centre
Many of the speech therapists at Brighten have an education or childcare background providing them with a comprehensive understanding of children and the support they may need with language and speech development. If you are looking for Mandarin, Cantonese or English-speaking speech therapists, Brighten has you covered.
Sprout in Motion
With two locations on Hong Kong Island, Sprout in Motion is a multidisciplinary child development centre offering a range of services from speech therapy and child psychologists to counsellors and group programs. The clinic has been specifically designed to ensure families feel at home in their imaginative play space.
Sprout in Motion (Central), G/F, 5A Chancery Lane, Central, 2563 4138
Other Speech Therapy Clinics In Hong Kong
- SPOT — Multidisciplinary paediatric therapy centre with trilingual services across four locations in Hong Kong. www.spot.com.hk
- ChildPsy — Based in Kowloon Tong, Childpsy supports children of all ages and works in partnership with many of Hong Kong’s private, international and local schools. www.childpsy.com
- Rehabilitation Consultants – Founded in 1990, this private clinic specialises in speech, language and occupational therapy for children and adults. www.rehabconsultantshongkong.com
- The Hong Kong Association of Speech Therapists — Has a handy search function that enables you to find a therapist by location, specialisation, language and age group treated. www.speechtherapy.org.hk
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Zara Kan, Senior Speech and Language Therapist/ Director, Talk In Action for help fact-checking this article.