Initial Assessment

So, you’re a worried parent, you’ve made a referral to a speech and language therapist and now your first appointment is approaching and you don’t know what to expect. Read on to find out more.

I’ll start by talking about a typical NHS SLT initial appointment and will then tell you about an initial assessment session with Speech Stuff.

NHS SLT Initial Appointment

An initial assessment session will have a similar format, whatever the concerns are about your child’s communication skills. Depending on your local NHS SLT service the initial appointment may take place in a clinic, at home, or at your child’s nursery or school setting.

  • Case History – the Speech and Language Therapist will start the session by completing a case history. They will ask a range of questions about your child’s development, behaviour, sleep etc. as well as finding out about your concerns. It will be useful to think about when your child achieved their various development milestones prior to the appointment so that you are able to provide this information. All the questions have a specific purpose and if you are unsure why a particular question is being asked, your SLT will be happy to tell you if you ask.
  • Assessment – this may be formal (standardised) assessment or informal (play-based or observational) depending on the needs of your child. There may be a combination of both types of assessment in order for the SLT to gather a range of information about your child’s strengths and areas requiring support.
  • Feedback – at the end of the session the SLT will provide feedback about your child’s difficulties and will let you know what the recommended next steps are. If a range of formal assessment has been carried out, they may need to score this before giving specific feedback (after the session)
  • Report – following the session you will be sent a copy of the report and this will be shared with other professionals with your consent e.g. GP, Health Visitor, school etc. The report will summarise the initial assessment session, your child’s difficulties and recommended next steps.

Following the initial appointment, the SLT will provide recommendations and activities that should be carried out by adults supporting the child to help their speech and language skills develop. They may also recommend therapy with a Speech and Language Therapist or Assistant (depending on the difficulties and the local offer). There may also be information about when a review should take place, if required. It is important that adults supporting the child, follow the advice and recommendations in order to support the child’s progress.

Speech Stuff Initial Appointment

So, you’ve decided that you would like to arrange some private therapy with an Independent SLT to support your child. Following a free initial telephone consultation, we may agree that it is appropriate for me to meet your child to offer some support.

Even if you’ve already been seen by an NHS SLT, it is useful to have an initial assessment session with a private therapist before therapy commences. This allows opportunity to get to know the child, current concerns and appropriate next steps. Speech Stuff sessions, take place in your home, where your child is likely to be most comfortable and relaxed.

Prior to the session

Once we’ve discussed your concerns and have arranged an initial session, I will send you an initial appointment letter. With this letter I also send a pre-assessment questionnaire. This has a range of questions to help me to learn more about your child and to plan for the initial session. Some of these questions will be similar to those that are on an initial case history that your NHS SLT may have asked. By completing the pre-assessment questionnaire prior to our initial appointment, this allows most of the initial session to be spent directly with the child rather than talking to you.

Initial Session

The session will typically begin with a quick chat about the information on the pre-assessment questionnaire (e.g. to clarify any information etc.) The remainder of the session will then be spent playing with your child to complete informal assessment (and formal assessment where appropriate). If your child is known to NHS SLT it is useful for you to share any information from them to ensure your child gets the best possible care. It will also be useful to know which assessments they have carried out with your child, to avoid repetition.

At the end of the initial session, I will provide verbal feedback about your child’s skills and areas of difficulties, offer advice, and suggest if therapy is required. If it is, I will let you know if I have the relevant experience to support your child and we can arrange some sessions as appropriate. I will never say that therapy is required if it isn’t. I will provide a brief summary report detailing the initial session and with your consent I will share this with your child’s NHS SLT if appropriate.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please feel free to contact me for a no obligation telephone consultation 01670 719791 or email


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