Your child may have been referred to Speech and Language Therapy because there are concerns about his speech, language or communication skills. It can be a very worrying time.
At your first appointment, the Speech and language Therapist will take a case history from you. This is to find out how your child has been developing and what your concerns are. You will be asked about important milestones in your child's development such as when he started to walk, when he made his first sound or first word, how does the he communicate with others and what your main worries are.
This is a two-way discussion. You will be asked for your views on your child’s speech and language, and what you think is important for them. Ask any questions (write them down beforehand and don't be afraid to get your list out!). There will be toys out for your child to play with whilst you talk with the therapist.
When the therapist feels that she has enough background information from you, she will begin to assess your child. Depending on the concerns, your child's age and personality, she will do this through informal assessment such as play or more formal tests, such as looking at pictures.
Depending on why your child has been referred, the Speech and Language Therapist will want to find out about some of the following areas of your child’s speech and language development:
- their understanding of words and sentences
- any words they use and if they put words together in to sentences
- their speech sounds and how they say certain words
- their attention and listening skills
- their play skills
- their eye contact and ability to take turns and interact
- what their voice sounds like
- if they have any problems with fluency
This first appointment will usually last around 1 hour. After the assessment the Therapist will discuss her findings with you and might offer you one or more of the following options:
- Discharge from the service as everything appears to be within normal limits
- Your child may be offered some therapy on a regular basis where you will be given work to do at home to support this. This therapy may be offered in a group or on an individual basis.
- You may be given some advice or a programme of work for you to try at home and the Therapist will arrange another appointment to review your child's progress
- The Therapist may refer onto other agencies, such as audiology or a paediatrician to look at other aspects of their development.
- Your therapist may talk to your child's nursery or school. This will be discussed with you before contact is made.
Generally anyone can refer a child to Speech & Language Therapy (including parents and carers) but we advise you to talk to your child’s health visitor or staff at your local children's centre before making a referral.