Contact the Children's Speech and Language Therapy Service

Call us on 01208 834 488 or email the Speech and Language Therapy Team.

Children's speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapists are registered allied health professionals (a trained health professional who is not a doctor or nurse). They aim to help to develop the skills of parents, carers and other people who support the child in their everyday environments. This ensures that therapy can be non-intrusive, practical and the most effective for the child or young person.

The Speech and Language Therapy Service supports children and young people aged 0 to 19 years who have difficulties with:

  • understanding what is said to them
  • learning to talk
  • talking clearly (saying speech sounds)
  • stammering
  • swallowing (eating and drinking)
  • using language to interact with other people

Everyone can play a part, sometimes as part of a child’s therapy. We will offer training to parents and other people working with the child. Some pre-schools and schools may already have attended training that will benefit children with speech and language needs and may be able to provide what your child needs without needing to contact to our service.

Not all requests for help will need to have a face-to-face appointment. After a telephone consultation some may get a pack of activities and/or may be given advice and clear criteria to meet before contacting us in the future. Others may be signposted to another service or group, or attendance at a training course may be recommended.


We would value your feedback, please take the time to complete our service survey.

Eating and drinking difficulties

If you have concerns about a child or young person's eating and drinking skills, fill in a referral form (DOCX, 61 KB) and send completed forms to the Speech and Language Enquiries Team.

We support children with difficulties in the following areas:

  • difficulties sucking and swallowing
  • coughing on drinks, or other signs of aspirating fluids into the airway and lungs
  • difficulties developing chewing skills
  • coughing or choking on food, or other signs of aspirating food into the airway and lungs

What we do not support

  • Sensory-based eating difficulties, such as gagging on or refusing to eat specific foods. The advice is aimed at parents of toddlers, but it can be useful for older children too. If your child has an occupational therapist and/or dietitian involved, please speak to them for advice.
  • Restricted diets, including avoidant and restrictive food intake disorder. Please speak to your GP or paediatrician about making a referral to a dietitian and/or the CAMHS and learning disabilities team. Get advice on selective eating.
  • Difficulties with weaning to solids in babies who do not have additional physical, medical or developmental needs. Please speak to your health visitor, GP, or visit the Start 4 Life website.

What happens at a dysphagia assessment?

Your child will be seen at home, or if it’s more appropriate in their pre-school, education or care setting. Inpatients will be seen in hospital.

The therapist will take a case history and observe your child eating and/or drinking. Following the assessment, your therapist will write a report with recommendations and will discuss sharing this report with any other professionals who may be involved in your child’s care. You and the education or care setting may also receive a mealtime plan to describe your child’s feeding recommendations in detail such as positioning, textures to be offered or avoided.

What happens after assessment?

Depending on your child’s needs, they may be offered a review appointment to monitor progress with the recommendations or the case may be closed with the option to re-refer if required.

Your child’s case will be closed when they have developed their eating and drinking skills to their potential, or when they have the appropriate personalised mealtime plan to ensure that they are able to eat and drink safely.

Request for help information

General communication advice

To get general communication advice, email the Request for Help Team with your contact details and a brief message describing the advice you need. If you need to discuss a specific child or young person with us, complete the request for help form below.

Request for help information

If parental consent has been given to discuss concerns about a child's speech, language and communication needs (except those concerning eating and drinking difficulties), you will need to complete our request for help form to request a telephone consultation with our specialist speech and language request for help team.

How do I complete the request for help form for a telephone consultation?

Read the guidance below before completing the form to make sure you have all the information required.

  • The form needs to be completed in one go. You cannot save and return to it, so ensure you have enough time (approximately 30 minutes) to complete it when you click on the link.
  • The form can be completed by anyone who knows the child or young person well and is able to discuss their communication needs with us.
  • You can only complete this form if you have parental consent to discuss the child or young person’s communication needs.
  • Many questions are mandatory, so you will not be able to move onto the next page unless these are completed.
  • Give sufficient detail under each section.
  • You will be asked to provide your contact details and the contact details for the child or ;young person you wish to discuss and their parent or guardian.
  • You will also be asked to give information about the communication concern and other relevant information.

Read the request for help prompts (DOCX, 1 MB), so you can prepare the information required before completing the form.

Once the electronic form has been received, your request will enter our waiting list for a call back. There is no need to submit another request for the same child or contact us again whilst waiting for a call back. The specialist request for help team will review the information and arrange a time to call you back for a consultation.

What happens during and after the request for help telephone consultation?

The speech and language request for help team will discuss your child’s presentation and undertake an initial assessment of their needs. The most appropriate next steps will be provided depending on your child and the support they require.

During the call we will discuss the information you have already given us. We may ask you follow-up questions so we can find out more information. This will allow us to offer the most appropriate help to support the child or young person’s communication skills.

After the telephone consultation we will email you a copy of the consultation form. This will include any recommendations we have made and whether the child or young person will be seen for a further assessment session with the speech and language therapy service. If you are not the parent or guardian, this information may be shared with the child or young person’s parent or guardian following our call back.

Sometimes we send work packs for you to complete with the child or young person, and advice for when to request for more help. Sometimes we advise that at the present time, other services can support the child or young person’s speech, language, and communication needs.

What to expect from us

Input from the children’s speech and language therapy team may be delivered in a variety of ways.


Please note, during the COVID-19 pandemic the therapists are following a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment. This may require them to wear PPE including a mask or visor, apron, and gloves, dependent on situation and maintain social distancing where possible. A copy of this risk assessment can be provided on request.

Next steps

The most appropriate next steps will be provided depending on your child and the support they need. This may not necessarily be the speech and language team, instead it might involve signposting to other services involved with your child, or access to training for those supporting them.

The most effective way to make improvements is when everyone involved with your child is also involved in their treatment, including their educational setting.

Work with your speech and language therapist may be done in a variety of ways and will be for a specific amount of time depending on what your child needs and will best respond to.

It may include but is not limited to:

  • a package of activities to try at home
  • a phone or video call
  • face-to-face, in clinic or at your child’s educational setting

Was not brought policy

There are high levels of demand for speech and language therapy. It is proven that the best results come from everyone involved with the child being actively engaged in their improvement plan. If your child is assigned a speech and language therapist, we need active engagement from home, setting and at times other professionals currently involved with the child.

The service follows a strict was not bought policy that will be implemented when there is a lack of engagement from those involved with the child. If your child is closed to the service, you will be able to make a new request for help in the future if it is felt further support is required.

Useful resources

Below are some things for you to try before you contact the specialist children’s speech and language therapy team.

Augmentative and alternative communication

We have links with the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Assessment Team. This is a multi-agency team made up of professionals from the Trust and Cornwall Council.

The team can provide an assessment to establish whether a young person would benefit from using a voice-output communication aid, up until they are 18 years old. Referrals to the team are through the student’s speech and language therapist only.

Speech sound errors

Between the ages of 2 to 6 years old it is common for children to have speech sound errors as their communication skills are still developing. Some children speak very clearly from the moment they talk. Others have lots of sound errors that gradually resolve as they get older.

Speech sound screening checklist

If your concern is around a child or young person’s speech sound development you will need to complete the speech sound screening checklist (DOCX, 1 MB) with the child or young person before completing the form. You will need to enter this information in the form to be able to submit it.

If you have concerns around a child’s speech sounds and their language skills (understanding and/or use of language), select speech sound difficulties (articulation) as the main communication need from the drop-down, to populate the speech sound screening checklist.

We are unable to give any advice or support around a child’s speech sounds unless this information has been received which may delay your telephone consultation.

You will need to complete the speech sound screening checklist in full and submit it. You will be able to save a copy of the form for your own records once submitted.