Saturday, 25 February 2012

What do I do if I am worried about my child's talking?

Sometimes you just know that your little one isn't developing their spoken language as they should. Other times you compare them to their little friends and see a difference. Sometimes it's a grandparent or friend who mentions something.  However  you come to the tentative or definite conclusion, you need to know what to do about it.

If your child is pre-school, then the health visitor is a good source of information and she can refer to the NHS speech therapy department for you with your permission. In some areas (it used to be all ) you can make a call to the department yourself. If your child is at school, talk to the classteacher about referring your child to speech therapy.

If you want to make  referral to a private therapist, you can contact them yourself. The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists recommend a website called On this you can put in your postcode and the age of your child and it will come up with a list of therapists in your local area. These are all members of the Association speech and language therapists in independent practice (ASLTIP). You can be sure that they are fully qualified and experienced, members of the Health professionals Council and members of the Royal College of Speech and language therapists. If you google private speech therapy, then make sure they are members of the HPC. Prices are usually pretty similiar from therapist to therapist. You can ring up and talk to the therapist before you make a decision as to who you choose.

You can have an NHS Speech and language therapist (SLT) as well as an NHS one. There is a protocol which they follow to work together.  

What happens then?
The therapist will need to see your child to assess the level he is at and what he needs to achieve more. This is usually in a clinic but independent ones will more than likely do a home visit. We prefer to do a home visit at Small Talk as they are more comfortable there and more likely to give a true representative of what they can do. In the sterile atmosphere of a health clinic, none of us is at out best! If not at home, we will visit nursery or playgroup.

What is the assessment?
This may be informal observation, play and by talking to you. They will ask about such things as pregnancy and birth and family background in order to complete a case history. Therapists use formal assessments too which will involve looking at pictures or books. It should be stress-free and fun for the child. The SLT will look for the child's level of attention, listening, play, understanding and how they express themselves. They will also listen to speech sounds but this might not be a priority.

The SLT might decide to review progress in a short while or offer therapy.

What is therapy?
A lot of the time we will be working through the parent or nursery staff as it is important for generalising skills. It is a bit like a music lesson, you wouldn't expect that the only time you do it to be the lesson. The lesson is to show you what to do and then you would need to practise all week before the next lesson. We try to make sure that any suggested 'work' fits into your daily routine wherever possible.

1. Is my child too young for therapy?
No child is too young if you work with the parents. Parents are the most important part of the Speech therapy process. Small Talk are licensed Hanen practitioners and offer 'It takes two to talk' for parents.

2. How long will therapy take?
That is impossible to say but the SLT will set targets/aims and discuss these before they start. 

3. I am worried but nursery aren't, should I still see a SLT?
Yes because you can discuss your concerns. She will be able to allay your fears or suggest a course of action.  There might be problems at home that haven't shown themselves at nursery or vice versa.

4. I can't get time off to have therapy, what can I do?
Depending on the problem, many private SLTs offer saturday sessions or via skype.

Have a look at for more information.  You can see stages and ages at

Don't worry in silence, get help!

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