Language Difficulties

Language difficulties can include problems with understanding, using words and sentences appropriately, or engaging in conversation. Language difficulties can have an impact on literacy, learning and behaviour.

Speech and Language Therapists offer support to children and young people from birth to 18 years where communication difficulties are impacting on their ability to fully participate in daily life.

Guidance and helpful information

Please check out the toolkits below for help and advice as to how you can help your child before deciding whether a Request for Service is necessary. There are also web links that you may find useful. If your health visitor or educational professional has made any recommendations about strategies or activities that you can do with your child while you are waiting, it is important that you keep these going.

Early Years Toolkit >>

School Age Toolkit >>

For children between 2 and 2 years 11 months of age, ask your Health Visitor or Children’s Centre to complete the ‘Let’s Talk More’ Screening tool. Please also download and complete the age-appropriate resource pack (Early Years/School Years) and ensure that you have explored the Basic Communication Strategies.

How can we help?

Speech and Language Therapists will assess and identify your child’s strengths and areas of difficulty (talking and understanding what is said). Working in close partnership with you as parents/carers and education staff, we will provide advice on how to support the child and maximise their communication ability and potential.

What happens next

Once the request for service has been accepted, you will be notified and sent an appointment for an assessment. We try and see all children within 18 weeks of acceptance onto the waiting list. Where this is not possible, we will contact you and advise what the anticipated time frame for assessment will be. You can contact the SPA on 0330 024 5321 for support and assistance at any time while you are waiting.

Once your child has been assessed we will follow the steps defined above. For children who are not yet at school, the intervention may include regular appointments for an agreed period of time, either individually or in a group, or may be advice and monitoring.

We might work directly with your child, or with you and your child together. For children in school, we will work closely with the staff, providing a programme and advice to enable them to support your child’s difficulties in school. Research has shown that outcomes for children with language difficulties in school are improved when goals are embedded in the child’s everyday environment.

Progress is monitored when goals have been reached. At this point further intervention may be offered or your child’s case may be closed. If this is the case you will be given advice and guidance as to when you may need to contact the service again.

Self referral

You can now self-refer your child into this service.

For details of what the service supports and what supporting documentation you require for your referral, please view the frequently asked questions page.

What is the process?


East, North, and West Devon

Children and Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Bittern Road
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW

t: 0330 0245 321

Torbay and South Devon

Speech & Language Therapy Service
John Parkes Unit
The Annexe
Newton Road
Torbay Hospital
Torquay TQ2 7BA

t: 01803 654539