Children’s Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and language therapists work with children and young people from birth to 19 years who have difficulties with speech, language, communication, eating and drinking. We work very closely with all people involved in the child or young person's life to support their speech, language and communication development and we also offer training to parents, carers and professionals.
The team is made up of Speech and Language Therapists and Speech and Language Therapy Assistants who are trained to work with children. Many of us have undertaken additional specialist training.
The ability to communicate is recognised as the most fundamental life skill for all children and young people. It directly impacts on their ability to learn, to develop friendships and on their future life chances. Speech and Language Therapists work very closely with all people involved in a child or young person’s life so that, together, we can support their speech, language and communication development.
The Speech and Language Therapists are part of the wider multidisciplinary team. This means that we work alongside other people, such as doctors and other therapists to provide the best possible care.
What we do
The Speech and Language Therapy Service can help children and young people who have a Lewisham GP or attend a Lewisham school and have difficulties with any of the following:
Attention and listening
Understanding what is said to them
Expressing themselves, making sentences and talking
Understanding social interaction, joining in activities, playing with others and the rules of conversation
Forming words and speaking clearly
Talking fluently, getting stuck on words and stammering
Using their voices appropriately
Eating, drinking and swallowing.
Support for children and young people who speak more than one language
Lewisham is a wonderfully diverse borough and we work with families from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and ethnitcities. Lots of the children and young people we work with speak more than one language and we can work with interpreters to assess children and young people’s communication skills in different languages.
Professionals we work with
We are part of the wider multidisciplinary team which means we often work in partnership with the people who know the child or young person best. This may include doctors, paediatricians, health visitors, portage workers, nursery and teaching staff, school nurses, educational psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists.
We participate in specialist clinics such as those that consider whether or not your child has a specific diagnosis or difficulty with feeding or swallowing. These clinics include the Communication Clinic, Joint Initial Assessment Clinic, Multidisciplinary Assessments and the Joint Feeding Clinic.
Training and support for professionals
We provide a range of training and support about eating and drinking difficulties and speech, language and communication needs. Some of the training is free and some of the training is accredited by OCN (Open College Network) so that learners can gain a qualification upon completion of the course.
Some of our training and workshops take place over several weeks and can be tailored to the individual needs of the child or young person or service.
Some nurseries and schools commission the team to provide additional Speech and Language Therapy Services. Please contact the department for further information should your setting wish to buy in additional Speech and Language Therapy Services and we can discuss a bespoke package which we could provide.
Parents and carers
You can refer your child to the service by contacting the department and attending one of our Speech and Language Therapy Drop-in Clinics.At these clinics parents and carers can chat to a Speech and Language Therapist or Assistant and get some initial advice. If further intervention or assessment is needed, a referral will be made and your child will be placed on the waiting list.
*Please note: due to Covid 19 all Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Drop-in Clinics are now online. Call: 020 7138 1464 to arrange a phone or video consultation. Please note your child must be registered with a Lewisham GP.
You can refer a child to the service with parental permission using the referral forms below. [Add links to referral forms]
Once we have received your referral, we will send an acknowledgement letter to the parents or carers and the person who made the referral explaining what will happen next. We may ask for further information to make sure that the child or young person is being referred to the most appropriate part of the team.
What happens next?
If the child is under five years of age they are likely to be seen by our therapists who work in the Health Centres. When the child is near the top of the waiting list, their parents or carers will be sent a letter with details of how to book an appointment, or someone will call you to make the booking.
If the child or young person is over five years of age they are likely to be seen by our therapists who work in schools. The therapists will contact the school to arrange a time to visit your child at school. They will also let you know when they plan to see your child so that you can attend the appointment if you would like to.
We aim to see children within 18 weeks (unless they have more urgent eating and drinking/swallowing difficulties). Parents and carers are welcome to attend the Drop In Clinic for further advice while their child is on the waiting list if needed.
In order to understand how we can help the child or young person, we may offer them an assessment. This may involve:
Speaking with their parents or carers to find out their concerns about their child's speech, language and communication or feeding needs.
Speaking to other people working with the child, such as nursery and school staff, to find out more about how they are communicating. This will always be with permission from the parents or carers.
Using informal observation or more specialist assessments to determine the child's strengths and the areas that they may need help to develop.
When it has been agreed that your child will benefit from intervention, this may be provided in a number of ways, depending on their needs.
Some children will see a Speech and Language Therapist or Assistant for a block number of sessions to learn and practice new skills. These sessions may be one-to-one or group sessions and may be face to face, online or via telephone, or a combination of these.
Sometimes the sessions will be more focused on teaching the parents or nursery/school staff skills and strategies that will support the child's speech, language and communication development. This is because the best way of ensuring that children and young people get the help they need with their speech, language and communication (as well as their eating and drinking) is to ensure that they are supported on a daily basis in the environments where they feel most comfortable and are supported by key people in their lives such as their parents and nursery or school staff.
Once the block of sessions has been completed, the child or young person will need to practice these skills at home with their parents or carers and in nursery or school so that they become embedded.
If parents or carers and nursery or school staff feel they need further support in the future, they can come back to the Speech and Language Therapy Service.
We may need to refer the child to another professional such as a paediatrician or audiologist for further investigations. This is always discussed and agreed with parents or carers before a referral is made.
Where will my child be seen?
If your child is under five years of age they are likely to be seen by our therapists at one of the following health centres:
Downham Health and Leisure Centre
Honor Oak Health Centre
Sydenham Green Health Centre
Waldron Health Centre.
If they are over five years of age they are likely to be seen by our therapists who work in schools.
The child or young person may also be seen in other settings such as:
Nurseries and early years settings
University Hospital Lewisham.
Contact the service
We are happy to provide more information about the team and the services we provide. Please contact us on 020 7138 1464 between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday - Friday excluding bank holidays.