If you are worried about your child’s speech and language development and want them to be seen by a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), you will need to make a referral, which means signing a form and giving some short info about your child so that they can be put on the list to see an SLT. If you can’t get your hands on a referral form, you can write a short letter explaining why you are worried and why you would like to see the Speech and Language Therapist. You can make a referral by yourself, or with help from someone else such as your Public Health Nurse, your GP or your child’s preschool/primary school staff members.
Where can I get a referral form?
You can get a referral form from your local health centre, or your child’s school might also be able to help you to get one. If you have an appointment with your Public Health Nurse or your GP, you can tell them your concerns and they can help you complete the form. It’s important to know that no one can refer your child for Speech and Language Therapy without talking to you about it and getting your consent.
What do I have to write on the referral?
You will be asked to give your name, phone number and address, and information about your child including their date of birth. There is space provided for you to write a little bit about why you are concerned, and if your child has any other medical conditions you should write them here too. There are some questions about your child’s general development including their most recent hearing test and their vision – if you are not sure about any of this information your Public Health Nurse or GP can help. Fill out as much information as you can and as you are comfortable sharing – this will make it easier for the Speech and Language Therapist to prepare for your child’s visit with them. Finally, make sure you make it clear that you want to refer to Speech and Language Therapy by ticking the box for SLT on the list of different services available.
Where do I send the referral?
You can give the referral to the GP, Public Health Nurse or teacher who will send it on with your consent, or you can send it to your local health centre. Not all health centres have a Speech and Language Therapy service, but your local health centre will pass on your referral to your nearest service.
What happens next?
It takes a little while for the referral to pass along through the services, but once it has been received your child will be put on a waiting list. The waiting time depends on your area, how many therapists are working in the centre and other factors, so it is difficult to give a time frame for how long you can expect to wait. You will get a letter in the post letting you know when an appointment has been made, so if you move house or change address for any reason while you are waiting it’s important to let the health centre know about the change. If you cannot attend the appointment (if the time or day doesn’t suit, if you have moved out of the area or if you are no longer concerned about your child’s speech and language) please let the health centre know as soon as possible so that they can offer the appointment to another child who is waiting to be seen. Even if you are no longer worried, it can be useful to attend the appointment and get the opinion of the SLT to make sure that your child is not having any difficulties. Children can catch up and improve with time, but an SLT can do some short tests to make sure there are no hidden difficulties that might affect your child’s learning further down the line. At your appointment, the SLT can give you advice on whether or not your child needs to attend some therapy sessions, and what you can do at home to help boost their speech and language development.
Created, Written and Contributed by Little Voices Team.