speak or translate this page

What is speech and language therapy for children?

Some children find talking and listening harder than others. They might find it hard to understand what words and sentences mean. Some struggle to find the right words or sounds to use and to put them in the correct order to make themselves understood. These children may need help from a speech and language therapist to develop good communication skills. Children can have speech and language difficulties because of physical or neurodevelopmental reasons (the way the brain develops that affect the way the brain performs or functions).

Speech and language therapists offer assessment, advice and support in partnership with families, health visitors and schools. They are trained to help children and young people develop skills including:

  • Attention and listening
  • Play skills
  • Understanding and using spoken language
  • Recognising and producing speech sounds
  • Using other ways of communicating, eg using signing and symbols
  • Speech fluency and stammering
  • Eating and drinking

How are children assessed for speech and language help?

Most children with speech and language difficulties are identified for assessment by the Healthy Child Programme Team before they go to school. Children at school with speech and language difficulties are usually referred to the speech and language service by the SENCO or school nurse.

If a parent or carer thinks that their child might have speech and language difficulties, they should speak to their health visitor or the SENCO at the child’s early years provider or school who will be able to offer advice and support. Parents can also contact the speech and language team directly if they are worried and would like more advice. Contact details are at the bottom of this page.

Once a referral has been made, the Speech and Language Therapy Service will ask parents, and professionals who know the child such as health visitors, school nurses and SENCOs for information about them. A speech and language therapist may also ask to see a child for extra assessments. For pre-school children, the speech and language therapist will typically asses them in a clinic and for school-age children this assessment will typically take place in a school setting.  

Our speech and language therapists work with children up to the age of 16.

How can speech and language therapists help?

After collecting information about a child and carrying out their assessments, speech and language therapists will discuss a child’s speech and language difficulties with their parents or carers and jointly plan outcomes the child could work towards with support. They will write a report which includes advice for parents and early years or school staff who work with the child on how each child can best be supported and how parents can further help their speech and language development. Support may include a speech and language therapist working directly with a child.

Speech and language therapists work in a variety of locations including children’s centres, health centres, mainstream and special schools, Seaside View Child Development Centre, and pre-school settings. Services may differ in the way they are delivered according to a child’s age and needs and can include:

  • Assessment and advice on the management of a child’s speech and language difficulties
  • Direct or indirect therapy
  • Regular monitoring of a child’s progress
  • Specific training (if needed) for parents and carers and/or professionals working with the child such as teachers and nursery nurses
  • Referral to other local services where appropriate (for example referral for a hearing test from the child audiology service)

Related links

iCan, the Children’s Communication Charity.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the professional body for Speech and Language Therapists.

 Afasic, a charity offering information and support around Speech Language and Communication Needs.

How to access 

Contact details

Speech and Language Therapy

01273 242079

(phone only)

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 08.30 - 16.30

How to find us

The Children and Families Clinic
Dyke Building
Brighton General Hospital
Elm Grove
East Sussex

Tel 01273 242079

Car parking: Car parking charges will apply at Brighton General Hospital. Please use the patient/visitor car park on your right as you enter. Free parking is available on surrounding streets however restricted for permit holders between 11 - 12am and 6 - 7pm. There are disabled parking bays outside Seaside View if you are a Blue Badge holder.

Buses for Brighton General Hospital: There are bus stops located nearby and around the Brighton General site. Buses: 2, 21, 22, 22A, 23, 37B

Other information: The Children and Families Clinic is wheelchair accessible. We have disabled toilets and baby changing facilities.  We have a water cooler in Reception and there are refreshments available from mobile coffee shop in the Patient and Visitor car park (8am - 3pm).  If you have any additional needs please contact us to see if these can be accommodated.