'Following the impacts of Covid-19 on services, we still have a longer than usual wait for initial assessments. We are working as quickly as possible to see children.
If you have any urgent concerns about your child while they are waiting for an assessment, please contact us (see 'Contact Us' details on this page) and we will do what we can to help.

About our service for children

We support children with speech, language and communication and/or eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties in Derby City and the southern half of Derbyshire (including Amber Valley, Erewash, South Derbyshire and the southern half of Derbyshire Dales).

We work with children in their education settings (schools, nurseries, pre-schools, PRUs etc), in their own homes, in other community settings and in Derbyshire Children's Hospital. We work closely with other children's workforce professionals, including health visitors, paediatricians, school staff, educational psychologists, specialist teachers and social care staff.

We work with children who have difficulties with:

  • speech sounds (learning or pronouncing speech sounds)
  • language (understanding or using words, sentence or paragraphs)
  • social communication (understanding the unspoken 'rules' of interaction and conversation such as turn-taking, sticking to topic etc.)
  • stammering or dysfluency
  • eating, drinking or swallowing (physical difficulties with eating, drinking or swallowing)

These needs may be associated with wider needs or a diagnosis (such as autism, hearing impairment, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy etc) or may exist on their own.

Video consultation

Many families have found video consultations more convenient during Covid. Where video consultation works well, and patients are happy with it, we will continue to use this where we can. This will depend on the clinical needs we are working on.

Patient initiated follow up

The NHS is trying to be more responsive to patients.  To help us meet patients’ needs at the right time, we are offering more patient initiated follow up. This means patients/carers can contact us when they need the next steps, rather than us trying to predict when this might be. This will help us to give help when it is most needed. We will still offer planned follow up where this is clinically necessary.

We accept referrals from anyone involved with the child/young person, including parents. We are independent of the local authority and referrals do not need to go through them.

Please discuss all referrals with us first. We cannot accept referrals without prior discussion. The only exceptions to this are referrals for stammering, multi-professional autism assessment or eating, drinking and swallowing.

To discuss a possible referral:

Please phone us using the Contact Us details on this page.

If we agree that a referral is needed, we will ask you to complete and return a referral form, quoting the unique reference number the therapist gave you. Parents may make referrals verbally over the phone if struggling to access the referral form.

Referral acceptance criteria:

We are trained and qualified to assess and support certain needs. Please see our acceptance criteria  for full details.

School staff please look at this document to help you decide whether a referral is needed at this stage: Schools referral guidance

We can help with:

Speech, language or communication needs that school/nursery have not been able to meet via the Graduated Response (please see this leaflet for more information about the Graduated Response: Graduated response leaflet Derby City Council)

Stammering (also known as stuttering), including in very young children. Please see this website for more information while waiting for assessment: www.stamma.org.

Eating, drinking or swallowing difficulties with a physical or medical cause.

Assessment of speech, language and communication needs as part of wider multi-professional Autism assessment.

We cannot help with:

English as an Additional Language:

If the difficulties only affect English, and the child can communicate as expected in their home language, please ask the school SENCo or Local Authority for help.

Selective Mutism (SM):

This is managed via a virtual multi-professional team under the Graduated Response. Please see the Derbyshire Selective Mutism Pathway and Toolkit here for more information and support: Selective Mutism in Derbyshire: information sheet, pathway and guide

The SLT service can only accept referrals if there is evidence of an underlying speech, language or social communication need. This may include a stammer, speech disorder or social communication disorder.

Behavioural eating and drinking difficulties:

If the main concern is extreme food refusal or limited variety in the diet, please talk to the health visitor or school nurse.

A note about children under three:

Many children under three do not talk much yet. Most of them will develop speech and language as they get older, especially when they go to nursery or school. A very small number of children have an underlying speech or language disorder which may cause longer term difficulties.

In either case, at this age, the best way to help speech and language skills is adults using support strategies during play and everyday routines. There are useful tips on supporting early talking here: Activities for babies, toddlers and children - BBC Tiny Happy People.

If you have concerns about your young child’s talking, please talk to your health visitor in the first instance. They will decide whether they need to discuss the child with us.

A note about Autism:

Only Paediatricians or Clinical Psychologists may refer for SLT assessment as part of multi-professional assessment for Autism. Please do not refer for an SLT Autism assessment unless you are a paediatrician or clinical psychologist.

However, anyone can refer for general communication support, whether or not there is also an autism assessment planned or underway.

To make a referral:


If you are not the parent or legal guardian, you need parent consent to refer a child to SLT. You must show the parent the completed referral form and check that they agree with the information in the form and give their consent before sending it in.  You can ask the parent to sign the referral form,  can state on the form that you have obtained parent consent verbally.

What is the concern?

How to refer

Speech, language or communication difficulties (including social communication)

You must talk to an SLT first: (see Contact Us section of website).

If we agree to the referral, send us a completed referral form, quoting the reference number. 

Parents do not need to complete a form; we can take referral details over the phone.

Stammering (stuttering)

Ring 0115 9512433. An SLT will ring you back.

Or send a referral form. Make sure you answer the Stammering questions on the form.

No need for discussion or reference number.

Eating drinking swallowing

Complete and return the Eating and drinking before you refer sheet.

Or send a clinic / referral letter which includes specific details of concerns and the SLT support needed. 

Emailed referrals will be processed more quickly 

You may also ring 0115 9512433 – either an SLT will ring you back or you may be sent a prompt sheet to complete

No need for discussion or reference number. 

Autism Assessment

Paediatrician/Clinical Psychologist only:

Via Single Point of Access.

Or send a referral form and tick ASD Assessment box.

No need for discussion or reference number.


Sending a referral form:

Please download the Referral form.  

Fill it in electronically and email it to us if you can.  If you cannot do this, you can print it off and write on it. Please use black ink and block capitals. You can post it back to us, but ths will take longer to reach us, and we cannot be responsible for forms being lost in the post.

Ask the parent to complete the Appointments Arrangements (page 3) and About Your Child (page 8) sections. We mainly use text messaging to notify parents of appointments, so please add a suitable parent mobile number if possible.

If we have given you a Unique Reference Number, you MUST write this on the form. All referrals must have a Reference Number (except for autism assessment, stammering and eating/drinking).

Complete all sections with a red asterisk*, or we will send the form back.

Tell us which school/nursery the child attends (if applicable). We cannot process the referral without this. Include education information from the SENCo, or ask them to complete the form.

See the last page of the form for where/how to send it.

Once we have received the referral and added it to our system, the child will be added to their local waiting list. A therapist will be in touch as soon as possible to arrange a visit and to collect some additional information about the child.

At the first appointment:

If the child cannot attend

Please telephone us on 0115 951 2433 at least 2 weeks before the appointment.

Where will we see the child

We may see the child at school/nursery (if they attend), at home or in clinic. In some cases, a video call may be used - we will agree with parents or school/nursery whether this is suitable.

What will happen at the visit

We need a quiet, private space to assess the child and talk to parents and/or school staff about their concerns.

What we will assess

We may assess the child’s:

  • Speech (how they pronounce sounds, and how clear their speech is)
  • Language (the words and sentences they use and/or understand)
  • Communication (how they use speech and language and/or other means to communicate with others).
  • Eating, drinking and swalllowing skills 

 How we will assess

Depending on the child’s needs and age, we may:

  • watch them around the home, school/nursery or clinic room,
  • talk to them,
  • play with them,
  • do a formal, paper-based assessment.
  • For eating and drinking, we will watch them eat a meal or snack, and/or have a drink.

We do formal assessments under ‘test conditions’, so please do not help the child (unless the SLT is trying out support techniques).

How long it will take

The visit may last between 30 and 90 minutes. This depends on what we need to assess and the child’s attention span. We may need to do another visit to get more information, or to see the child in a different setting.

What will happen next

We will agree the next steps with you, including any further support we need to give. We will send a short written report with details of what we found and what we agreed.

How we give support

This depends on the child’s needs. We may give:

  • Advice to support the child’s needs at home, and/or in the classroom. This is often most the helpful way to develop language and communication skills, through real-life conversations and routines.
  • A programme of activities for parents and other staff to practise regularly with the child at home/school, to develop specific skills. This may help with more technical or complex skills, like speech sounds, grammar or Picture Exchange (PECS).
  • A period of regular therapy sessions. This may help if the child needs the specialist technical expertise of SLT staff to teach them specific skills. This approach is most helpful for speech sound skills. It is less helpful for language or communication. The number and frequency of sessions will depend on the child’s needs. Appointments may take place via video consultation, over the phone or in person.

What happens after that?

After giving advice, a programme or therapy, the next step may be:


This happens when we have given all the support we can at this time, and can give no new advice. This may be because:

  • the child’s skills are as expected for their age,
  • the child’s needs are being adequately supported and managed at home and/or at school (through the differentiated curriculum), 
  • the child can communicate successfully for their needs in daily activities (with support if needed),
  • the child is not able to make further progress at this stage due to their prognosis, and/or
  • the necessary support from parents/other professionals is not available.

Once discharged, we can quickly re-open the child’s case if new concerns arise. Please ring us if this is the case.

Patient initiated follow up 

We ask parents or school/nursery staff to ring us if new advice or support is needed. We do this if we cannot predict when you will need new advice, or if we predict that you will not need any new advice. If you do not ring us within 3 months, we will close the case.

Planned follow-up

We do this when we need to check a child’s progress towards short-term skills development targets, following a period of therapy and/or a programme. The timescale depends on when we think the child will meet their targets. At the follow-up, we will agree the next steps after that (e.g. more advice, more input or discharge).

We try to agree any support and follow up with parents. However, the speech and language therapist will make the final decision, based on the clinical needs of the child.

How do I get in touch if I need to?

Ring the number on the top of your appointment letter or report, and leave a message with your child’s name and date of birth. The SLT will get back to you as soon as they can. If you cannot find this number, plesae see the 'Contact Us' section of this page.


Autism and neurodevelopmental needs

Neuro-developmental pathway assessments (including autism and ADHD)

Derby & Derbyshire - Emotional Health & Wellbeing - click on the Neurodiversity tab.

Supporting children and young people to manage social communication difficulties - a toolkit for children and young people with social communication needs, their families and other professionals. The toolkit offers a wide range of information, advice and resources to support social communication needs (both in children and young people with autism and those without).


Hearing Impairment

Does my child need a speech and language therapist - a guide for parents of children with hearing difficulties

RNID - National hearing loss charity for the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.​​​​

National Deaf Children's Society  - the leading charity for deaf children no matter what their level or type of deafness or how they communicate



Stammering and dysfluency

In a bid to empower families to manage conditions like stammering in their daily lives, we work in a ‘social model’ where we value children’s voices whilst supporting them with any communication difficulties they have. As part of this we want everyone to understand that stammered voices are valued, and that children can still communicate effectively whether they continue to stammer or not. Our approach includes the following:

  •  ​​​​support for parents to feel comfortable and confident in their knowledge about stammering
  •  how adults can influence your child’s environment to help them communicate effectively
  •  helping children communicate confidently whether they are stammering or not

STAMMA (British Stammering Association) - STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, is dedicated to creating a world where people who stammer are able to fulfil their potential and enjoy respect and consideration


General advice to support speech & language


Useful links

The links below take you to websites that may give more information about your child’s individual needs.

Afasic - a charity helping children and young people with speech and language difficulties and their families.

Nuffield Dyspraxia Foundation - information about verbal dyspraxia

Elklan - information and resources to support children’s speech and language development

I CAN -  a children’s charity specifically supporting children with communication difficulties.

The Communication Trust  -  a campaigning voice for children with speech, language and communication needs.

The Hanen Centre including information about More Than Words - a website for parents and educators of pre-school children

Makaton - information on Makaton signing, resources and training.

Talking Point - information and resources for parents of children with communication difficulties and professionals working with them

Speech Link - information about the Speech Link and Language Link computer packages for screening and supporting children in school

Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) - information and support on all aspects of living with Down’s Syndrome for all who need it

Cleft Lip & Palate Association - working to support, connect and empower everyone affected by cleft in the United Kingdom

Child brain injury trust


Words for life (Talk to your baby)


ACE North - Information about alternative and augmentative communication support