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Speech and language therapy

We define speech, language, and communication as follows:

Speech – The ability to clearly and accurately make the speech sounds used in words e.g. ‘b’ ‘sh’ – so that speech is intelligible to the listener

Language – Understanding and using words.  Using language - being able to put words together to make meaningful sentences.  And understanding language – understanding what is being said to you.

Communication – The use of language for social interactions between people. This includes non-verbal communication such as facial gestures and body language.

Why it is important

Children need to develop speech, language and communication so they can:

  • Make their needs known
  • Let us know their likes and dislikes,  
  • Interact with family and friends
  • Make friendships
  • Learn and understand emotions and feelings

When to be concerned about your child

Most children develop language easily just through interacting with family and friends. However, around 7% of five year olds starting school in England have significant difficulties with speech and language.

Parents and carers are usually the first to notice difficulties with speech, language, and communication development.

You should consider getting help and advice if your child:

  • isn’t talking as much as other children of the same age
  • is becoming frustrated or showing challenging behaviour
  • is becoming isolated and quiet
  • is having difficulty learning
  • is having difficulty socialising with others

The sooner you get support, the better for your child. Find out more about language development on the GOSH website

If your child is under 5 and you'd like general advice on speech and language development you can contact the HENRY Service

Speech Language and Communication Service

HENRY may refer you to NELFT, whose specialist speech and language therapists help children with issues such as: 

  • Swallowing, Eating and Drinking -  dysphagia (swallowing) eating & drinking difficulties. Your GP or Health Visitor can advise if a SALT referral is needed
  • Language Delay or Disorder - working with you/your child to develop their language understanding and expressive skills such as vocabulary and short sentences
  • Speech Delay or Disorder - working with you/your child to develop your child’s speech clarity and range of speech sounds
  • Complex Needs and/or Autism - working with you/your child to develop their ways of communicating using objects, pictures and signs as well as spoken communication. 
  • Stammering - working with you/your child to help them understand their stammering and use strategies and techniques to maximise their fluency.

How to get referred to our services

Your child’s school or nursery, GP or Health Visitor can use the SCS referral form (Word) to refer you to our services. Once your child's referral is accepted, you'll be seen within 18 weeks.

Further information

Downloadable resources

Being at home toolkit for families

Coping with being cooped up

Useful websites

For pre school children you can access:

BBC tiny happy people

Hungry little minds

For school-aged children you can look at: I can talking point

If you are worried about your child’s fluency or stammering

Get in touch

Opening times

9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
Speech and Language Therapy Service

North East London NHS Foundation Trust
Wood Street Health Centre
6 Linford Road
London E17 3LA