Children develop their speech and language skills at their own pace. The important thing is to ensure that your child has enough interaction with other children and plenty of opportunities to play; as children learn from playing and listening to others. There are also activities you can do at home with your child to ensure they have the best chance of developing their communication skills - such as playing, talking and reading with them every day.
Parents of children who have more than one language should continue to speak to their child in the language they are most at ease with.
Parents of children who do not speak English should continue to use their home language with their children and not English.
Here are some useful leaflets with ideas of what to do with your children at home to help develop their speech and language.
- Talk and play every day
- Toys for talking
- Sing and rhyme anytime
- Watch less talk more
- What every parent should know about dummies and cups
Delayed development of speech, language, and social and communication skills may be symptoms of a disability or special need. However, some children are naturally ‘late talkers’ and may catch up with other children their age soon enough.
Take a look at the speech, language and communication pyrimid which shows how children’s speech, language and communication skills develop.
In the first five years of life, speech, language and communication skills develop quickly. If your child is having difficulty with these skills, it is important that they get help as soon as possible.
You can discuss any concerns you have with your Health Visitor, childcare provider e.g. childminder, nursery or your child’s school. They can give you ideas on how to support your child’s speech, language and communication. They can also include your child in a speech therapy group if there is one taking place at the nursery or school, or offer advice on possible training courses you can go on to help your child. Discussing your concerns they can make a referral to the speech and language therapy department when the time is right.
What to expect when
Children develop their speech, language and communication skills at different ages and stages. However, the pattern of typical development is helpful in giving us a guide to the skills your child is likely to have at various ages.
By one year, your baby will start to pay attention to the strongest stimuli, e.g. sound and activity in their environment.
They will still be easily distracted.
They may play by exploring toys and objects near to them, often putting them in their mouths. They understand some words, including their name.
They are beginning to be interactive and they may show this by smiling at you, waving their arms and legs around, pointing and taking turns with you to make babbling noises.
Between one and two years of age, children start to pay attention for slightly longer periods. However, they are usually only focused on things that they like or that interest them.
Children begin to learn lots more words and by two years old they can understand two word phrases. They will also be using many single words, and are starting to put two words together when talking (e.g. ‘more juice’).
They are interested in toys now and may engage in pretend play, e.g. pretending to feed a doll.
Between two and three years of age, children are able to move their attention between two situations (e.g. whilst playing, they may stop and look at you if you call them).
They start understanding action words, using longer sentences (e.g. 3 key words) and simple questions. They seem chatty and can speak in short sentences.
At this age children are interested in those around them and may watch others playing or play alongside them. Their own play is starting to become more imaginative.
At this age children are learning to pay attention to adult-led activities e.g. listening to a story.
They can understand a lot more now, including a wider range of questions and descriptive words. They should be able to have a conversation with you and will ask lots of questions.
They are starting to play with other children and their speech is getting clearer.
At this age your child will start to be able to listen even when they are doing something else. Their play will be more complex now including playing games with other children and making up rules for their games.
Children will be able to understand and answer a wider range of questions, including ‘why?’ And when they don’t understand something, they may ask for help.
Their choice of words is more specific and meaningful and they are able to link their ideas (e.g. by saying ‘and’). They will also start to talk about events that have happened.
There’s a lot of speech and language support you can access without a referral to the Speech and Language Therapy Service. Timetables for different sessions and activities are available to download from this page.
Talk & Play Groups for ages 0-5 years
These are stay and play type groups run by Speech and Language Therapists and early years’ practitioners that provide strategies to help families support their children’s communication skills through play. There is no need for referral and parents can just drop in and have fun. These are run at different venues across Ealing.
Look & Listen Groups
These are play-based groups for children under five with attention and social interaction difficulties (i.e. difficulties with: eye contact, playing with other children, understanding what is happening around them, focusing on activities).
The groups are run by Speech and Language Therapists and/or early years practitioners. Parents are offered advice on how to support their children’s attention and social interaction difficulties. Weekly sessions (term time only).
Speech & Language Therapy Drop-ins
These are drop-in sessions offered by Speech and Language Therapists working with Children’s Centres. Parents can ask for advice and support. No need to book.
Parent and Practitioner Workshops
These are workshops offered each term that parents and practitioners can attend to get information on the following areas:
- Language development for children under three years
- Language development for over three years
- Speech development
- Shy, quiet and anxious talkers
- Makaton (communication tool) introduction
The purpose of the workshops is to give families information on expected development stages and advice / recommendations for developing their child’s speech, language and communication skills at home. Sessions are for parents and practitioners only, no children allowed so you will need to make childcare arrangements.
Social Communication Training for Parents: Supporting Everyday Activities
Suitable for parents/carers who:
- Have concerns about their child’s social communication
- Whose child is waiting for an autism assessment/social communication assessment.
- Whose child has been recently diagnosed with autism, but have not yet completed the Early Bird training.
- Want practical advice to support their child’s communication skills, sleeping, eating and toileting.
Timetables and more information are available to download from the 'useful reading' section on the right of this page.
These are the signs that Speech and Language Therapists will look for:
- That the child is not using any words at 18 months old
- The child does not seem to understand what is being said at 18 months
- That the child is not joining words together at two and a half years
- That the child shows signs of frustration when trying to tell you something
- That their speech is difficult to understand by three and a half years
Speech and Language Therapists works with children who have speech and language or communication difficulties
Speech and language therapy aims to:
- Prevent speech, language and communication difficulties from arising.
- Empower parents and practitioners to know how best to help their child’s communication develop.
- Support children with speech, language or communication needs to enable them to reach their full potential.
You and your child will meet a Speech and Language Therapist at a local Health Centre and you can discuss your concerns about your child’s speech and language development during this appointment. The Speech and Language Therapist will ask you questions about your child’s development and will also observe/assess your child’s play, attention and communication skills.
At the end of the appointment, the Speech and Language Therapist will tell you about your child’s strengths and needs and will discuss the next steps with you including attendance at a workshop at your local Children’s Centre. It is important you attend the workshop. If you do not attend your child will be discharged from the Speech and Language Service. Your Speech and Language Therapist will give you an indication when therapy may start.
After the speech and language assessment you will receive a report detailing the findings of the assessment with recommendations to support your child’s Speech and Language development.
It is important to share the recommendations with your childcare provider e.g. nursery.
5 years plus
This assessment will take place in school, if your child attends a school in Ealing. The Speech and Language Therapists may observe your child or young person in the class room and /or during group work; they will talk to you and the teacher and will spend some time on a one-to-one basis with your child or young person. At the end of the appointment, the Speech and Language Therapist will tell you and the teacher about your child or young person’s strengths and needs and will discuss the next steps with you.
Any health professional or educational professional can refer a child to Speech and Language Therapy. Please speak to your Health Visitor, Community Nursery Nurse, Occupational Therapist or GP about making a referral. You can also refer, however discussing your concerns with professional as early as you can may help you and your child by getting help that is available before your child is seen.
5 years plus
If your child is at a school nursery or is of school age, they will be seen by Speech and Language Therapist attached to the school. The school must make the referral.
Speech and Language Therapists work with children and families in different ways, including:
- Assessing the child’s skills and abilities
- Giving advice and suggesting strategies to support the child
- Working with children both individually and in groups
- Training parents and professionals
- Working in lots of different places-schools, nurseries, children’s centres, clinics and children’s homes.
- Training parents and professionals to continue speech and language practices outside of the service and use communication aids such as Makaton.
The service works exclusively with children who attend schools or are registered with GPs in Ealing. It provides training to early year’s staff to support speech, language and communication needs, and works to increase the number of communication- friendly environments in early years/childcare settings (nurseries etc.).
If your child is under the age of five, your child will be offered an appointment within six to eight weeks of receiving the referral. You will receive a letter in the post advising you of the date, time and location of your child’s assessment. You will also be sent a parent questionnaire to complete – please fill this in and bring it with you to the assessment.
5 years plus
If your child is at a school nursery or is of school age, they will be seen by Speech and Language Therapist attached to the school.
Find out about what milestones your child should have reached. This includes their actions, behaviour, speech and communication abilities. Look at ‘What to Expect When’ on this page or go to the NHS Choices website on the ‘Birth to Five Timeline’ www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/birthtofive
Has your child had a nine months to one-year-old or the two-year-old check with a Health Visitor? Health Visitors are part of the Early Start Ealing Service.
Does your child have plenty of interaction with other children their age? Do you get out and about with your child, seeing new things and meeting new people?
There are many stay and play sessions available around the borough. Find your nearest at www.ealingfamiliesdirectory.org here you can stay with your child whilst they play and interact with other children their age.
Do you read, play and talk to your child every day? Reading is very important from a very young age. Your child needs to hear words and see the pictures they relate to. Talking to your child and showing them different things and repeating the names for those things is also very important.
How much time is your child spending watching TV? It is important that TV programmes include real children and adults talking rather than purely cartoons and programming for very young children without speech.
Have you been to a speech and language advice session? Or attended any of the free workshops for: speech sounds, stammering or for shy and anxious talkers?
Session locations and timetables can be downloaded from this page.
If you have tried all of the above and it becomes clear your child does need a Speech and Language Assessment, speak to your GP, Health Visitor or chiur child yourself, however discussing your concerns with a professional as early as you can, may help you and your child get help that is available before your child is seen.
Talk to your child’s class teacher; school SEN Coordinator, Health Visitor, GP or place of education; as your child may already be included in a group at the school or nursery to help them with their speech and language.
A joint discussion should take place with the parent, young person and school to decide whether a Speech and Language Assessment is needed.
If it is agreed an assessment is needed, a date will be agreed for when the assessment will take place at school with a Speech and Language Therapist.
If an assessment is not needed, the school will explain why. Schools work closely with speech and language therapists setting up activities for teachers to carry out to help with speech and language. The teacher then monitors your child’s progress during the activities before a referral is made.
If after receiving this support, your child is still not making progress, a discussion may be had about a Speech and Language assessment.
A referral to Speech and Language can only be made by the school for children who attend school.
The team is based in Carmelita House, Ealing Broadway and provides assessments and intervention throughout Ealing. They work in partnerships with children, parents/carers, other health, education, and social services professionals and voluntary bodies. Therapy is carried out in the following settings:
- Children’s centres
- Ealing Hospital in-patients.
If you’re going to a therapy session or a group, please check your invitation letter for the correct address. They work across Ealing, so your session may be at a different location to the previous one.
Speech and Language Therapy Admin Office
21-22 The Mall
Tel: 020 8825 8856