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Advice for a parent or practitioner who is concerned with a child’s communication or has a physical difficulty with eating and drinking

Signposting and adviceReferralsUsing visuals

Signposting and advice

If the child or young person’s skills are within the normal range, they will be monitored to check that development continues, and referral can be reconsidered if needed in the future.

If the child or young person’s skills are delayed following the advice from the fact files or the Advice Line Therapist.

  • If progress is made, there is no need for a referral.
  • If progress is not made, phone the advice line above to discuss with a therapist or refer directly.

If the difficulty needs an immediate referral, then refer directly to the service. An example could be difficulties following a brain injury, a significant difficulty with eating or drinking, or an emerging stammer. You can find guidance in the fact files or this may be recommended when you phone the advice line.


Anyone can refer a child provided they have discussed with the parent or carer and gained their consent.

If the referral is for a child’s eating and drinking, please also complete and attach the form with Additional information to support a feeding referral. If the referral is from a school or preschool for communication needs, please also attach the form ‘Communication Competencies’

Referral information is considered by a Speech and Language Therapist who also discusses it with an Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist so more than one therapy needs may be considered depending on the needs outlined in the referral

If the referral is not accepted – A letter is sent to the referrer and parents explaining the reasons and giving advice if relevant. Advice sheets are sent if appropriate for parents or schools or pre-school to try. A re-referral may be needed in the future

Referral accepted for an initial assessment appointment – Parents are sent a letter (copy also sent to the referrer) asking them to contact the service to book an appointment.

You can find a flowchart of this information here

Using visuals

Ruth from Somerset Parent Carer Forum leads an interactive session on how to create visuals to help your child or young person during our Local Offer Live week.

You can access Somerset’s Inclusive Communication signs and symbols for free.

There is more information about when to use visual prompts in the Fact Files for Early Years or for School-age.

Last reviewed: April 12, 2023 by Gemma

Next review due: October 12, 2023

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