The consultation service is available to children from around the country. We offer specialist assessment and advice to speech and language therapists and parents/carers about individual children and young adults who stammer.
As a direct access service, anyone can refer a child, and the usual sources are speech and language therapists, parents, schools and GPs.
Once a referral has been received, the family is put on a waiting list and letters of acknowledgement are sent. All appointments are made in strict order of referral - the only exception is when a family can come at short notice because of a cancellation.
Both parents are required at the consultation appointment (unless it is a one-parent family). The attendance of a local therapist who will be supporting the family following the consultation is also essential to ensure good liaison between the services.
Families who live in or reasonably close to London may be offered two appointments, one for the child assessment and one for the parents on their own. For families who live further afield, one appointment is arranged with two therapists allocated from the specialist team. One will work with the child and the other will meet with the parents.
Our assessment procedure is based firmly within a multi-factorial framework. This proposes that a child who stammers will present a unique profile of factors which have contributed to the onset and development of the problem.
The Child Assessment (approximately 1-1½ hours)
This includes formal and informal measures of speech, language and fluency, as well as a carefully-structured interview (adjusted for age) to gain an insight into the child's understanding and awareness of the problem.
The Parent Interview (approximately 3 hours)
The interview aims to bring together the parents' perceptions and insight into their child with our theoretical and clinical knowledge. We explore the stammering, its onset and development and its fluctuations and variability. We discuss any relevant family history or other physiological factors, the child's developing speech and language skills as well as any important issues concerning the child himself and his environment and lifestyle. All these are aspects of the multi-factorial framework of stammering. Finally, all the information is drawn together to give parents a framework for understanding their child's vulnerability to stammering.
Our aim is to try to take some of the mystery and complexity out of stammering, to give clear and up-to-date information about the problem and to recommend an action plan for management. This is where working with the local Speech and Language Therapist becomes so vital.
A full clinical report is completed, which contains information regarding the child's assessment, the nature of the stammering and the management recommendations. This report is sent to the parents initially, and, following their consent, it is distributed as reqested to other involved professionals.
The speech and language therapist can expect full support in delivering the recommended therapy programme. Additional support is always available by phone, and a review appointment will be made as necessary.
Some children are offered therapy at the Michael Palin Centre and again the local therapist is always welcome to participate in these sessions or to attend a day on the intensive therapy programme if that is the recommended action.
To watch a short film about assessments at the Michael Palin Centre, please click here.Training courses