Local Offer - Speech, Language and Communication

Speech, language and communication needs can include difficulties making sense of language or understanding how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others.

What may a child with speech, language and communication needs have difficulty with?

A child with speech, language and communication needs may have a difficulty in one or more of the following areas:

  • Understanding words
  • Using words or sentences
  • Using speech sounds e.g. saying words clearly
  • Stammering
  • Social interaction
  • Communicating their needs, feelings and ideas
  • Using words in context
  • Recalling words or ideas in different contexts.

The profile for every child with speech, language and communication needs is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

How are speech, language and communication needs identified?

Speech, language and communication needs are usually identified in the early years of a child's life, however, sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your child's speech and language skills are developing within the expected range as children develop at different paces. Speech, language and communication needs may be identified by your child's health visitor or early years provider during their assessments or progress checks. If you have concerns about your child's speech, language or communication skills then you should speak to your child's:

  • Health visitor if they're under 5 years old
  • School nurse or GP if they're over 5 years old
  • Nursery, childminder or school if they are attending one

They will talk to you about your concerns, offer advice and signpost you to services that can help.

How can I support my child at home?

There are lots of things you can do to support your child's speech, language and communication needs at home. Exploring language through play is often the most helpful and engaging way to support your child's speech, language and communication skills to develop. You could try:

  • Following your child’s lead in engaging activities and commenting on their play
  • Watching for, and responding to, your child’s attempts to communicate (including gestures and pointing)
  • Using books, songs and rhymes to start conversations
  • Visiting parks, libraries and museums to introduce your child to a wide range of new words

The universal services below will also be able to provide you with lots of useful tips and ideas to stimulate your child's mind and encourage their speech and language skills to develop. 

What services may support my child?

Your child or young person may be supported by some of these services. We've separated these into universal and specialist services.

  • A universal service can be accessed by anyone who needs support; a referral is not needed to access these services, but they might need to refer your child to a specialist service.
  • A specialist service requires a referral to be accessed - the referral may need to be made by a professional or the service may accept self-referrals. The services usually have an area of expertise.

Universal Services

Family Hubs

Sessions delivered at Family Hubs are not only fun, they're also designed to support your child's early years development in many areas including speech, language and communication.

If you have concerns about your child's speech, language and communication skills, you can speak to an Early Years Coordinator at your local Family Hub. They can provide you with some helpful advice and ideas to try at home, to encourage your child's skills to develop. 

If necessary, the Family Hub can also support with a referral to specialist services.

South Yorkshire Talking Together

South Yorkshire Talking Together (SYTT) offers a wide range of support for parents, carers, practitioners, and anyone else working or interacting with children under the age of 5. The SYTT website and Facebook page offers lots of activities, top tips and guidance to support your child's speech, language and communication skills at home. 

As part of the Start for Life campaign, which is funded by the Department for Education, SYTT hosts regular events for children from pre-birth to 5 years. These events are designed to support families to carry on the fun at home, boosting children's communication, language and literacy development. The events provide lots of resources and advice to allow you to continue the key message - chat, read and play together.

South Yorkshire Talking Together also run sessions for children who have been referred into the service. You can find out more about these within the specialist services section. 

Early Years Providers

If your child attends an early years provider, you can speak to them about your concerns regarding your child's speech, language and communication skills. Your early years providers might notice that your child requires support with their speech, language and communication skills before you do, and if they do, they'll speak to you about this and let you know what strategies they will put in place to support your child.

You can find out more about how early years providers support children on our Childcare and Early Education page.

Health Visitor

Your health visitor can provide you with tips on how you can support the development of your child's speech, language and communication skills. If necessary, your health visitor can also refer your child to receive support through specialist services.

GP or School Nurse

Speech, language and communication problems are usually identified before a child reaches school age, however, if your child didn't attend an early years setting, or these problems have recently developed then you might wish to speak to their GP or school nurse. 

After your child's initial appointment, the GP or school nurse may decide that your child needs to be referred to a specialist service.

Specialist Services

South Yorkshire Talking Together

In addition to the universal offer which all children can access, South Yorkshire Talking Together offers targeted intervention for children:

  • aged 2-3 who can understand some words and are using less than 50 words
  • aged 3-3½ who are trying to use 2-3 word phrases, but aren’t using them all the time
  • aged 3½-4 who are only using 3-4 word phrases, or have difficulties using words such as in/on/under, or talking about anything that has happened in the past

You can find out more about some of the interventions offered on the STYY leaflet. Interventions can take place either in the home or at groups run in local Family Hubs, depending on the needs of your child.

Who can refer into the service?

Referrals can be made by:

  • Parents
  • Any Health Professionals including GPs and Health Visitors
  • Nursery Practitioners or Childminders
  • Family Hub staff

To make a referral, please complete both the referral and assessment forms and send to SYTTDoncaster@doncaster.gov.uk

This email address can also be used if you would like to check if your child needs support from either South Yorkshire Talking Together or Specialist Speech and Language Therapy services.

Speech and Language Therapy Service

The Children's Speech and Language Therapy Service supports children and young people in Doncaster and Bassetlaw who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing. Most difficulties fall into the following areas:

  • understanding what is said to them
  • expressing themselves
  • talking clearly (saying speech sounds)
  • stammering
  • eating and drinking

How to access

To access the service children and young people must:

  • have a Doncaster or Bassetlaw GP
  • be aged 2-16 or 2-19 if they have an Education, Health and Care Plan and attending a Doncaster or Bassetlaw School
  • meet the threshold for accessing specialist Speech and Language Therapy care.

What is the referral process?

The Doncaster and Bassetlaw Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Service operate an open referral system. This means anyone can refer a children and young people, you do not need to ask a professional to do this for you. However, we do not accept referrals without parents’ knowledge and permission.

If the child or young person has a feeding / swallowing difficulty, the referral needs to be made from a GP or Consultant or a professional with consent from a GP or Consultant.

You can refer by downloading and completing the referral form and relevant communication checklist and returning them to the service.

When will support be withdrawn?

Children may stop receiving support from the Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Service if:

  • The child does not have any speech and language difficulties
  • The child’s speech and language skills are developing well, and advice on what to do next has been given
  • The child is making good progress and we think they will keep making progress on their own
  • The child has long term needs and is unlikely to benefit from further therapy at this time
  • Our agreement with parents/school has not been followed by parents/school
  • The child is not yet ready to take part in therapy sessions
  • The child has the communication skills they need for their daily life and they do not currently need therapy
  • Where intervention is not effective due to the child’s readiness to change


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Last updated: 11 March 2024 09:53:50


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City of Doncaster Council’s Families Information Service is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing the Local Offer – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

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