Speech Difficulties

Speech difficulties occur when speech sounds are not learned or used in the correct places in words. This can result in words being mispronounced which can make what is said difficult to understand. This can happen for a number of reasons: hearing difficulties, a delay in learning to talk or, occasionally, it can be due to difficulty co-ordinating the muscles needed for speech.

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 fully 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. If your health visitor or educational professional has made any recommendations about strategies or activities that you can try with your child while you are waiting, it is important that you keep these going.

For children between 2 years and 2 years 11 months of age, check that the Health Visitor or Children’s Centre have completed the ‘Let’s Talk More’ Screening tool.

Please also download and complete the age-appropriate resource pack (Early Years/School Age) and ensure that you have explored the Basic Communication Strategies sections on Speech Sounds and helping children with unclear speech.

How can we help?

Speech and Language Therapists are able to assess and identify your child’s areas of strength and their difficulties with speech sounds. Working in close partnership with parents/carers and education staff we provide advice on how to support your child and maximise the clarity of their speech.

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.

For children who are not yet at school the intervention may include regular appointments, either individually or in a group, for an agreed period of time, or may be advice and monitoring. It may involve working directly with your child, or with you and your child together. The venue for the intervention is most likely to be the clinic for the younger child, but may be at pre-school/nursery or at home if this is more appropriate.

For children in school, we will work closely with the school staff, providing a programme and advice to enable them to support your child’s difficulties in school.

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?


We work from a variety of locations around the county, and if a request for service is accepted we will offer you and your child an appointment at the venue closest/most appropriate for you. This might be a local clinic, your child’s school, nursery or children’s centre, or your home.


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