As professionals working with children and young people, we all have a responsibility to meet their needs. Support for many will be embedded in our everyday practices.
However, additional specific support for speech language and communication can be needed to help a child achieve their potential.
Supporting speech, language and communication skills
In order to support a child or young person’s speech, language and communication skills, we follow a model of ‘graduated support’. This tailors support to individual needs considering the following three tiers:
Using commonly recognised ways to help or encourage speech language and communication development that could benefit all children or young people.
There are many speech, language and communication focused resources that can help support children and young people.
These range from advice and suggestions for babies and infants to ideas for young people at secondary school age. Please see useful websites for some links that we would recommend exploring further for high-quality information and resources.
Some children may need more specific support to develop aspects of their speech, language and communication. Often the adults around them have the skills to identify and put support in place for these without needing a Speech and Language Therapist to advise them.
Support could include intervention groups offered in a school/early years setting including national, evidence-based interventions such as ‘Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme’ (NELI), or ICAN ‘Talk Boost’.
Alternatively, it could include individual assessment and intervention or home-based support. Strategies will involve creating opportunities to practise specific new skills in a child or young person’s daily life (such as trying out a newly learnt sound, new words or sentences).
At a targeted level, professionals implement tracked cycles of support. These are a first step to help decide if a different type of support or more specialist input is needed. These cycles involve the following steps:
ASSESS: Identifying key areas of difficulty
PLAN: Deciding how and when to support skills and who will do so
DO: Implementing more individualised support
REVIEW: Checking back how successful this support has been/ if another approach is needed
With this in mind, not every child with speech, language or communication difficulties needs to be referred directly to a Speech and Language Therapist to help them. Providing universal and/or targeted level support regularly and consistently, then checking back how effective it is might be enough to meet their needs or can help to decide if further help is necessary (i.e. specialist led support).
Assessment from a Speech and Language Therapist may be required to identify needs and plan a package of specific support if ‘universal’ and ‘targeted’ intervention is not achieving the expected results.
Assessment from a Speech and Language Therapist may be required in the following circumstances:
- ‘Universal’ and ‘targeted’ intervention has been put in place and is not achieving the expected results
- Where there is a significant impact on a child/young person’s everyday life which cannot be managed without a specialist level of knowledge and skills
- Where a child/young person is stammering, even if they are going through a more fluent spell
- Where a child/young person has significant anxiety around talking and they are not talking in some or all situations
When giving a ‘specialist’ level of support, we know that working alongside or advising key people in a child or young person’s daily life helps them transfer skills into their everyday experiences. The information from a specialist assessment can assist people around a child or young person on how to focus their support most effectively.
In certain cases, direct specialist therapy will be offered (for more information on this see How is it decided if a child/young person gets therapy?.
Therapy may be delivered individually or sometimes in groups, with a Speech and Language Therapist or with one of our highly skilled Speech and Language Therapy Assistant Practitioners.
Therapy never takes place without key people in a child or young person’s life being involved. We know that practise in their everyday life is essential to carry over what has been learnt in therapy sessions.
If a Speech and Language Therapist’s assessment and advice is required you can request a specialist referral form or contact us by phone to talk through your concern.
We offer a range of training courses for professionals to support children and young people to develop their speech, language and communication skills.
Speech and language therapy students
As a team, we regularly provide placement opportunities for student Speech and Language Therapists from Newcastle University and in partnership with some other universities.
If you are a student and due to come on placement with us, you can get more information in our Student information pack. We look forward to meeting you soon.
Students from other professions
We can offer half-day observation sessions to students of other professions locally such as student health visitors, school nurses, midwives and doctors.
For information about the availability of observation sessions, contact us directly.
Considering a career in Speech and Language Therapy?
If you are thinking of becoming a Speech and Language Therapist or Assistant Practitioner you can find lots of useful information on the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and NHS careers websites.
We offer observation placements for work experience students or people considering a career in Speech and Language Therapy. These usually consist of two half-day sessions.
If you need additional information about the local service, you can contact our admin team on 01429 522717.