Speech and Language Therapy

Speech, Language and Communication assessment is appropriate for any child presenting with a difficulty in this area. Following an assessment session, your Speech and Language Therapist will provide advice regarding the need for further intervention or appropriate onward referral.
Pre-School Children
Young children can present with delayed non-verbal communication (such as eye contact and turn-taking) as well as limited play skills. Nursery may inform parents that their child's development is a little behind their peers, requiring further investigation and support.

A wide range of play-based strategies can be used to develop young children's attention and listening skills, play skills and communication. Therapy sessions focus upon training parents to implement these strategies and enrich the child's language learning environment.
Speech and Language Difficulties
Children's speech sound pronunciation and language skills develop at different rates, but there are identified norms for each age group. When a child's development is delayed, therapy targets the specific speech sounds or language structures which are lagging behind. Homework is given so that families can reinforce skills between sessions and the child can use the techniques in other environments.

Speech sound therapy might focus upon tricky sounds, such as 'k' and 'g', which can be pronounced further forward in the mouth as 't' and 'd'; an example of this would be 'cat' pronounced as 'tat'. This is a pattern of normal speech sound development which is usually outgrown by age 4-5 years.

Language therapy focuses upon improving vocabulary, enriching sentence length, developing understanding of instructions or teaching the use of specific structures, such as plurals or past tense verbs. Language therapy works to improve the child's ability to both understand and produce sentences which include the targeted structures.
Most children display some stammering behaviour as part of normal speech development, but in some cases this can persist and develop into more entrenched non-fluency.

A wide variety of techniques can be used both directly with children and indirectly by modifying the child's environment and pressure to speak. This involves working with families and nursery/school to improve understanding of the difficulty and provide strategies to manage more challenging tasks, such as circle time or 'show and tell'.

At The Speech Clinic, we follow the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering (Whittington NHS Trust) approach of Parent-Child Interaction (PCI).
Selective Mutism
Children displaying Selective Mutism benefit from thorough speech and language assessment in order to identify any areas of deficit which are appropriate for therapy. Following this, strategies can be introduced to facilitate communication in difficult environments, such as school and social groups.

Once techniques have been mastered in the clinic environment, the Speech and Language Therapist can accompany the child into school in order to train teachers and demonstrate techniques. It can be useful to work with the child's peers in small groups, so that the child can develop experience of talking in progressively more challenging situations.
Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Some children have a formal diagnosis which highlights the likelihood of communication difficulties from a very young age. We currently offer monthly sessions to parents of babies aged 0-1 year with such diagnoses, including Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. These sessions focus upon gaining the baby's attention, using sensory toys and stimulating eye contact using signing systems, such as Signalong or Makaton.

Intensive therapy sessions are offered to toddlers and older children with formal diagnoses in order to address difficulties and support optimal access to the curriculum at school. Such children will have a combination of clinic-based therapy sessions and sporadic school sessions to facilitate the sharing of therapy techniques and transition of skills between environments.
Acquired Brain Injury
Children with Acquired Brain Injury can have a range of difficulties requiring assessment and intervention, as well as training for families and schools. At The Speech Clinic, we accept Case Managed children for whom therapy is funded externally; as well as weekly therapy sessions, we provide regular reports, programmes of activities for school and attendance at multi-disciplinary planning meetings.