First steps… getting in touch!
If you think your child needs support with their speech, language or communication then we would love to hear from you. First of all, you’ll need to get in touch with us. You may want to speak to us straight away or attend one of our free drop-in sessions. You can find out more information on making initial contact here.
The first step will be speaking to a member of our team who will ask you some questions to work out what the next step should be. They will also ask for key contact details so that we can keep in touch with you.
If we think your child doesn’t need Speech and Language Therapy now, we’ll let you know and advise you on any general tips or resources that we think might be helpful. We may arrange a time to get back in touch with you in a couple of weeks or months time.
If we think your child does need some Speech and Language Therapy, the next step will be to arrange for us to carry out an assessment. For more information about our assessment process, please see the ‘Assessment’ tab.
We will share details of our recommended type of assessment and the cost for this in a ‘proposal’. This will be sent to you via email using Docusign to review and approve (i.e. electronically sign). We will also share our therapy service agreement ‘Terms and Conditions’ and Introductory Questionnaire in the same way. This will need to be completed prior to the assessment.
Our recommendations will always be made with your interests at heart. It is really important to us that you feel comfortable to ask any questions and discuss alternative options at any point in your child’s journey, should you need to.
What we need from you
So we can start off on the right track, it’s helpful for us to have as much background information as possible. To save time, we will send you a questionnaire before your first session.
This questionnaire help us to build a picture of your child. This enables us to plan our assessment and ensure we can tailor this to your child’s interests as much as possible. It also ensures we have the correct details to contact you with.
In addition, we will ask for your consent, as a parent or carer, to be able to see your child, as well as to store and share information. Please see the storing information tab for more details about this.
Once the questionnaire has been returned to us, your therapist may contact you via phone to gather further information from you or to discuss certain areas in more detail.
It is very helpful to share any other important information you have about your child as this helps us plan our assessment and decide appropriate next steps. Information that is useful to share includes Education Health Care Plans (EHCP), information from previous Speech and Language Therapy intervention, relevant information from other professionals and school records such as annual reviews and Individual Education Plans.
If you need help with any of the above or have any questions about what information we are keeping about your child, then please do contact us.
Information gathering within school
It might be helpful for us to collect information about your child from school staff. This may involve the following:
- Discussion with teacher, teaching assistants and relevant coordinators (this may include senior leadership and family support workers)
- Viewing records such as Educational Health Care Plans, previous Speech and Language Therapy intervention from the NHS, relevant information from other professionals, school records such as annual reviews and Individual Education Plans
- Observations in school – this may take place in the classroom, on the playground and in other social situations such as the dinner hall
We feel that you, as the parent or carer, are the expert on your child. Assessment at The Talking House is a collaborative process between you and the therapist, where your expertise and that of the therapist are drawn together. Your contribution is therefore crucial to enable us to gain a comprehensive picture of your child.
We take the time to get to know your child, so that you can be confident that the advice we give is reliable. It’s also really important to us that your child feels comfortable and enjoys their therapy. That way we get the best outcomes.
We aim to see your child as soon as possible and we will let you know who will be the best person in our team to see your child. Following discussion with you, we will advise which level of assessment we feel will be most appropriate for your child.
Types of assessment
We have two levels of assessment:
An informal assessment or initial screen:
- An initial screen usually takes around an hour. You will receive verbal feedback and advice afterwards with recommendations for any further action if it is felt that this is required. A short, written evaluation may also be completed if requested. Sometimes the therapist may feel that more information is needed in order to get a really clear picture. We may need to arrange further sessions, with your agreement, if this is the case.
A detailed assessment/complex assessment:
- A detailed assessment may be recommended if we need to carry out a more thorough investigation. This can last between 2-3 hours and may take place over 2 sessions. Further sessions, such as a home or school/nursery visit may also be recommended. This will always be discussed and agreed with you prior to being arranged. Following the assessment, we will complete a detailed analysis of any formal assessments, language samples and observations carried out at the assessment session. We will discuss our findings with you and will complete a detailed report, including our evaluation and recommendations, if this is required.
Your child may have already had lots of assessment. It is useful for us to know this, because it is important that we don’t complete the same assessments within a certain timeframe. It is, however, very useful for us to carry out our own evaluation so that we can get to know your child and form our own plan.
It is really important that we hear your views and discuss any hopes and wishes that you have for your child, as well as any concerns you have regarding their speech, language and communication skills.
Before the assessment
So we can start off on the right track, it’s helpful for us to have as much background information as possible. To save time during the assessment, we will send you a questionnaire beforehand. To find out more about this, please see the ‘What we need from you’ tab.
During the session
The therapist will spend time talking to you and your child and observing your child’s communication skills.
We often do this through play, looking at pictures or just chatting. During these activities, the therapist will be looking at a whole range of communication skills, not just the ones your child seems to be having difficulty with. This will include how they follow instructions, listening and attention, sentences, word knowledge, how they have a conversation and body language. In younger children, we look at how they play. With older children, we look at how they tackle a problem or engage in an activity. Sometimes we may try out some therapeutic strategies or techniques.
More detailed assessment activities may need to be done. We usually call this a formal assessment and it helps us with diagnosis or to understand the problem more thoroughly. This is usually done as a tabletop activity using picture-based resources, but may also include parent and school questionnaires. We often have to analyse this information after the session, so can’t always give information about scores during the session itself.
Sometimes, parents worry that their child might not say or do much in these sessions or that they don’t like being with new people. We are trained to manage these situations and will spend time making your child feel comfortable.
Not all children need a formal assessment. Observation and informal assessment within play may form the whole of the session. This is just as valuable as formal assessment.
During these sessions, your therapist will be making notes on what your child says and does. Sometimes we need to record what your child says so that we can listen to it after the session. This is important for two reasons:
- so that we can make an accurate assessment
- so that we can show improvement over time
After the initial assessment, your therapist will give you feedback and there will be opportunity for you to ask any questions. Your therapist will discuss the next steps.
What are the next steps after an assessment?
Following the assessment, your therapist will discuss the next steps. They may recommend the following:
- A report outlining the information obtained in the assessment, their evaluation and recommendation for next steps
- Arranging a further session at home or in school/nursery to complete additional observation and assessment
- A block of therapy sessions with a Speech and Language Therapist focusing on specific targets
- A ‘wait and see’ approach in which the therapist will contact you to see how things are going after an agreed period of time
- That your child does not need therapy at this time. The therapist will provide advice on how you can continue to support your child’s speech, language and communication needs at home if this is required
- That it may be beneficial for parents to attend one of our workshops to enable them to further support their child’s speech, language and communication needs at home
- A referral to another service for more information, e.g. if we think your child needs a hearing test
If we have any recommendations for therapy or support, then you will be sent a recommendations proposal. These proposals will include an outline plan and projected costs. We will always agree these with you beforehand.
We will ensure that you are involved at every stage of your child’s therapy journey and your therapist will keep you up to date at all times.
As part of your child’s care, your therapist may need to work with other professionals. Sometimes, this involves attending meetings. These will always be agreed with you beforehand.
If you, as parent or carer, have anything you would like to discuss with your therapist more depth outside of an assessment or therapy session, a meeting can also be arranged at your convenience.
There is a legal requirement of all Health and Care Professionals to keep clear and accurate records of your child’s therapy. We store and maintain our records in line with current General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). You are entitled to see these records.
These records are intended to show a timeline of what has happened during your child’s therapy.
Sometimes we need to share information with other professionals. We will ask for your consent to do so.
What about the NHS?
If your child has an identified speech, language and communication difficulty, they are still entitled to an NHS service. Any help your child receives from The Talking House is additional to your NHS service.
In order to achieve the best outcomes for your child, we take a holistic approach to our therapy. We aim to work in partnership with other professionals involved with your child, such as teachers, medical professionals, and other therapists, including NHS Speech and Language Therapists.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions, you can always contact your allocated therapist directly or contact us at our main office on 01937 843122 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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