Referrals and Early Advice Sessions

If you are unsure whether to refer your child to the Speech and Language Therapy service, please speak to a health or education professional - e.g., health visitor, pre-school or school SENCo. You could also take a look at ICAN's Ages and Stages  for typical stages of speech and language development from birth to 17 years.

Early years Referrals: Drop-ins / Early Advice Sessions

If your child is not yet at school you can come to one of our drop-in sessions to talk about your child's speech, language and communication skills or any other concerns you may have, with a Speech and Language Therapist or assistant. Drop-ins are held at clinics or health centres.

Due to the national crisis with COVID-19 we are not currently running the face to face drop-in clinics for pre-school children. Instead we are providing virtual 'Early Advice Sessions' that you can book onto.

**If an Early Help Assessment has been completed for your child and you are awaiting a General Developmental Assessment (GDA) with the Paediatrician or a Multi-Disciplinary Team assessment (MDT) you do not need to book an Early Advice Session. Your child will be on a waiting list to be seen as part of a team and more bespoke support will be offered at your assessment. In the meantime, please see our Early Communication section on our  Speech and Language Therapy Toolkit page for further advice and support. **

To register for a virtual 'Early Advice Session', please complete the following form: Early Advice Session Registration Form. If you need any help filling in your form please call 0300 555 5965 or email After completing the form a video call will be arranged with a Speech and Language Therapist.The video call will last a maximum of 15 minutes. The Speech and Language Therapist will talk to you about your concerns and discuss next steps for your child. To find out more about how your video call will work please see our Early Advice Session information leaflet.pdf [pdf] 79KB

School Age Referrals

If you have concerns about your child’s speech, language or communication please speak to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) at your child’s school. They will be able to talk through your concerns and may undertake screening assessments to see if a referral to our team is required.  

How is a referral made?  

The SENCo will complete some initial paperwork which they will talk through with you and ask for a permission signature. This paper work will then be discussed with the school’s link Speech and Language Therapist. Following this discussion a few things might happen: 

  • The Therapist may advise that a referral is not required at this time as your child’s communication appears typical from the evidence given.  
  • The Therapist may give some advice to the SENCo or suggest that they be placed in an intervention or group already running in school.  
  • The Therapist may decide that they would like to directly assess your child which will involve a face to face appointment.  

We will always write to you following any discussion with a SENCo to inform you of the outcome.  

What should I expect at my child’s appointment?  

Your child's appointment will take place by telephone or via an 'Attend Anywhere' video appointment. In the future, appointments will take place in your child's school or in a health centre. Please follow this link to learn more about how an Attend Anywhere video call will work During the appointment, please be prepared to discuss your current concerns or worried regarding your child’s communication. The Therapist may ask you questions about their development, when the problem started and how it affects them. If you have any other relevant information from other health professionals such as Audiology, Educational Psychology or Paediatricians please feel free to share this with the Therapist.  

Appointments tend to last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on your child and their needs. During the appointment the Therapist may: 

  • Observe your child and have a chat with them. 
  • Complete some informal/formal assessments. 
  • Discuss your child’s communication with you and inform you of any likely diagnosis or difficulty that they have seen. 
  • Discuss next steps with you.  

Eating and Drinking Referrals

If you have concerns over a child's eating/drinking and are a Health Care Professional please contact us directly to discuss your concerns. If you are a parent, please visit your child’s GP or discuss your concerns with their Health Visitor in the first instance.

Voice Referrals

If you have concerns about your child’s voice or your child has lost their voice for more than 3 weeks, you should see your GP to request a referral to ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) at the hospital. The ENT consultant will carry out an examination of the larynx (i.e.voicebox). If they consider it appropriate, they will make a referral to the Children's Speech and Language Therapy team. We are only able to accept referrals once the child has had this ENT examination. 

What should I expect at my child’s appointment?  

Once your child has been seen by ENT and the referral accepted by the community Speech and Language Therapy team, they will be offered an initial assessment appointment with a Speech and Language Therapist. Your child's appointment will take place by telephone or via an 'Attend Anywhere' video appointment. In the future, appointments will take place in your child's school or in a health centre. Please be prepared to discuss you concerns regarding your child’s voice. The Therapist will ask you questions about your child’s voice and the impact the difficulties have on the child or the family. For older children, it can be helpful if they contribute to this discussion.

The appointment tends to last an hour. Another appointment may be arranged to complete the assessment if necessary. During the appointment, the Therapist may:

  • Talk about how the voice works.
  • Discuss the findings from the ENT appointment.
  • Discuss your child's voice difficulties with you.
  • Discuss how you and your child can support your child's voice.
  • Discuss next steps.
As a patient

As a patient, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Patient Advice and Liaison service  Contact the Trust