How can I access speech and language therapy?
Speech and language therapy can be a vital way to help improve the quality of life of your son or daughter by helping them communicate, learn, develop their language and achieve their true potential.
Expert therapy is carried out by qualified Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) who are trained to help children and adults improve their communication abilities and skills.
SLTs usually work with children, and their parents, on an individual basis to provide a customised programme of support to meet specific needs and goals. This is usually based on a development plan that identifies key communication, language and learning difficulties and how to help overcome these and reach important goals and milestones.
Speech and language therapy can be accessed free of charge on the NHS. You can contact your local NHS Speech and Language Therapy service, or speak to your GP, Health Visitor or school staff about a referral. Some schools also employ specialist speech and language therapists where demand is high with many children needing urgent improvement in their learning and language skills.
If you get referred to the NHS you will normally be put on a waiting list to access speech and language therapy.
However, waiting lists can be long. According to a survey by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists some children have had to wait a year to see a therapist. The institution suggests quality of care has been impacted by NHS cuts as half of services across the NHS, schools and local authorities in the UK have had budgets significantly reduced.
Private speech therapy
The alternative to the NHS waiting lists is private therapy with qualified speech and language therapists. You can contact speech and language therapists directly without an NHS referral. You will need to pay for any therapy. But the advantage is you can start assessing and addressing your child’s communication problems much sooner and seek improvements when it can matter most.
As well as Iris Speaks, which provides access to affordable speech and language assessment and therapy in your own home, you can contact the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice to find your local independent therapists.
This sort of service also allows you to make appointments at times to suit you and your child and see therapists more frequently to maximise the impact and improvements for your son or daughter.
You can top up your NHS therapy
And remember accessing an independent speech and language therapist doesn’t have to mean you lose your place in the NHS queue.
You can see a therapist before you get NHS treatment and continue, if you wish to, in conjunction with, or after any help you get from the NHS.
Whichever route you choose, timely and effective speech and language therapy can have a vital impact on the communication and quality of life of your child.
Iris Speaks helps parents by providing quick, affordable and flexible access to qualified and highest quality speech and language therapists for children in their own home.
Royal Collegeof Speech and Language Therapists
ICAN – The Child Communication Charity:
How can speech and language therapy help my child?