A Speech and Language Therapist is trained to assess attention and listening skills, comprehension, expressive language, speech, play skills and social interaction skills. Speech Therapists also specialise in areas such as eating and drinking disorders and voice disorders. Following assessment Speech and Language Therapists will then determine whether there is delayed or disordered development of these areas and recommend treatment.
What can I expect from an initial assessment?
The initial session is usually used to assess the skills described above. A case history is taken from the parents to get a picture of the developmental history of the child.
Some time is also spent directly assessing a child’s comprehension and expressive skills, play and interaction. Sometimes formal assessment is used (these are assessments which have been standardised on a typically developing population) which helps determine if speech and language development is delayed and by how much. Informal assessment is also used, whereby the Speech and Language Therapist uses knowledge about language and communication development to determine if there is a delay.
A Speech and Language Therapist would then analyse this information and feedback to you about their findings.
NHS / Private
Speech and Language Therapists are available on the NHS or privately. An NHS referral can be made through a professional such as GP; health visitor, or teacher or you can refer directly by contacting your local NHS Speech Therapy service. Waiting times vary across different boroughs.
Some Speech and Language Therapists work for the NHS and privately. Some parents opt for private Speech and Language Therapy, mainly to avoid waiting times.
Some private health insurers cover a number of Speech Therapy sessions.
All Speech and Language Therapists must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) a regulator, which ensures that therapists maintain professional standards.
There is also a professional body called the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.