Children's speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy provides help, support and care for children and young people who have difficulties with their speech, language and communication skills. We also work with children who have difficulties swallowing that can make eating and drinking unsafe. 

What do speech and language therapists do? 

Therapists work with children and their families and schools to help resolve these difficulties when possible  or to help a child learn good strategies to manage their communication difficulty and be independent.

What sort of children and young people do we deal with? 

We mostly work with children up to the age of eight (referrals should be made before the end of Reception for concerns around language development, difficulties with speech can be referred until the end of year 6. Difficulties with stammering and safe swallowing can be referred until 18. Children must be registered with a Sutton GP.

If your child is over the age of five and you are concerned, speak to your child’s teacher about the help that could be offered at school.

We are able to help children who have difficulty with:

  • Listening to and understanding language
  • Learning new words and putting them together in sentences
  • Using language in social situations
  • Saying words clearly
  • Speaking fluently without getting stuck on words or stammering.

We work with children and young people who communicate in other ways (signing, using computers or communication aids) and who have difficulty in swallowing when eating and drinking. We would also work with children who are confident  speakers at home / with close family but who are unable to use these skills in other situations or with other people.

The Speech and Language Therapist is trained to recognise when a child has difficulties and to find out why, and what will help. Therapy works best when those who spend most time with the child put the therapist's ideas and suggestions into practice on a regular basis.

What can I expect from the service?   

  • The Speech and Language Therapist will see you and your child and will spend time finding out about your concerns, playing with and talking to your child, and deciding whether your child has difficulties and how severe these are
  • The therapist will give you ideas for activities and strategies you can use and practice at home. Small changes  and work done at home can make a big difference to a child’s communication skills
  • We will write a short report about your child and share this with nursery or school so they can use the same ideas and activities to help your child during the day
  • We may offer your child some input which could either be a home/nursery/school programme, some group work with other children, or some individual sessions.

Where will my child receive this service?   

Children are invited to a local Health Clinic for their first speech and language therapy appointment. 

The service is primarily clinic based; visits may be made to homes and educational settings within the local borough when clinically necessary to improve functional speech and language and communication skills.

What does the service expect from me?   

Speech and Language Therapists know a lot about language and communication, but you know your child best and spend the most time with them, so it is important that you carry out the activities and ideas we give you. We will support you to do this.

We ask you and your child to attend all appointments booked. Please contact the department as soon as possible if you are unable to attend any appointments.  Your child will be discharged from the service if you miss an appointment without letting us know.

Is there a cost for this service?  


How can my child be referred to this service? 

If you are concerned about your child's speech and language development, please discuss this with your health visitor, your child's nursery leader or class teacher. They will be able to advise you and refer your child to our service if appropriate. You can also ask your GP to refer your child if necessary.