Assessment and therapy at the MPC

Assessments for 2-18s

Find out how your assessment will be organised depending on where you live and read about what happens when you come here. Browse our FAQs to find more information and read what people have said about coming to the MPC for the first time. If you have any other questions that we haven’t covered here give us a call on 0203 316 8100.

The MPC assessment clinic

The Michael Palin Centre assessment clinic for 2-18’s is charitably-funded by Action for Stammering Children and is for families from anywhere in the UK. International families, or UK families wishing to be seen more quickly can arrange a private assessment.

It is an opportunity for

  • children and young people to talk about their experience and decide what help they would like
  • parents to talk with an expert clinician and get advice which is tailored to them and their child
  • SLTs to get support for their continuing work with a family or to help their families access specialist therapy at the MPC

Typical wait time for a charitably-funded assessment: 4 months

Typical wait time for a private assessment: 1 month

Our assessment clinic during COVID

We are currently carrying out our assessments by Skype or Zoom. If this is not possible for you or you prefer to be seen in person please let us know and you will go on to a waiting list to be seen in the Centre. We cannot currently say when this will be possible.

Watch our videos for parents or for children and young people about how our Skype or Zoom assessments work.

What parents have said

“The therapists are extremely friendly, warm and reassuring. They put us and our child very much at ease.”

“The therapists’ professionalism and expertise made the whole difference. We felt that we were in very experienced and safe hands.”

“I don’t feel alone now. I have been listened to and honestly feel like my child will benefit going forward.”

“It was empowering to be told that my instincts are good!”

“The day was fantastic and the team are brilliant.”

“It really helped me to understand what my daughter is thinking and feeling and how I can support her.”

“It gave me a better understanding of how to talk about stammering with my son and how to help him with his speech and his emotions.”

“This has given us hope and a plan of action to help our son. We feel very positive about the future. It has given us confidence!”

“Our son has loved it!”

What kids have said

“I think other children should come here because it’s a really nice place and they could help you.”

“It was really helpful with my talking.”

“I liked it and I had fun.”

“The therapist explained things in a helpful way.”

“It was extremely helpful just talking about how I felt about my stammer and different stuff like that. “

“It was really useful to properly open up about my stammer and how it effects me.”

“It helped me to realise that I’m not alone and that there is help out there.”

“I know who to talk to if I need more help.”

How your appointment will be arranged - depending on where you live

Due to the coronavirus pandemic all assessments are currently being carried out by Skype or FaceTime with therapists working from home. We are unable to say how long it will be before we offer face-to-face appointments however please let us know if you prefer to wait until then.

We live in Camden or Islington

You will receive two appointments.

The first is for your child. This appointment lasts for about two hours. One parent needs to attend.

The second is for you as parents. Your child does not attend this session. This appointment lasts for around four hours (either a whole morning or a whole afternoon). If you are a two-parent family both of you will need to attend.

Your assessment will be funded by Action for Stammering Children.

We live elsewhere in the UK

You will receive one appointment.

You will meet two therapists when you arrive, one of whom will spend time with your child while the other will spend time with you as parents. The appointment lasts for around four hours (either a whole morning or a whole afternoon). If you are a two-parent family both of you need to attend.

We will liaise with your local speech and language therapist if you have one and invite them to attend as well, either in person or by Skype. This will mean that we can decide together how best to help your child.

Your assessment will be funded by Action for Stammering Children.

We are not UK residents

You will receive one appointment.

You will meet with two therapists when you arrive, one of whom will spend time with your child while one will spend time with you as parents. The appointment lasts for around four hours (either a whole morning or a whole afternoon). If you are a two-parent family both of you will need to attend this appointment.

Your assessment is not charitably-funded.

We need to receive payment for your child’s assessment before we are able to send you an appointment.

What to expect on the day

Your child’s appointment

The therapist working with your child will:

  • spend some time making sure that they are settled in before starting the assessment. You may asked to have some time playing with your child first to help them settle.
  • have a conversation with your child to get a sense of how much they are aware of stammering, how much it bothers them, how much it is impacting on their everyday life and confidence and whether they would like help.
  • look at the questionnaires that your child has completed.
  • make a short video of your child talking.
  • complete a screening assessment of your child’s language skills if this has not already been done by a local speech and language therapist.

Your own appointment

The therapist working with you will:

  • ask you questions about different aspects of your child’s life. This helps us to get to know your child and make recommendations which will be the best fit for him or her.
  • tell you about your child’s session, explain the assessments that were completed and talk with you what these tell us.
  • give you information about stammering
  • make recommendations about next steps and discuss these with you so that you can make a decision about what you would prefer.
  • take time to answer any questions that you have.

I've referred my child - what happens next?
  • Your child will be put on our waiting list as soon as we receive the referral.
  • You will receive your appointment letter.
  • You will need to contact us to confirm your appointment. If you need to re-schedule your appointment this will probably mean waiting longer.
  • You will receive some paper and online questionnaires to complete before your appointment. If you or your child need help completing any of the questionnaires then you can bring them to the session and the therapist will help.
How long will we wait for an appointment?

Expect to wait 4-5 months from referral to your assessment date, unless you opt for the private route in which case you will be seen more quickly.

Is it possible to get short-notice appointments?

We are sometimes able to offer short-notice appointments if we have a cancellation, however we do still need both parents to be here for the parent session if you are a two-parent family. Short-notice appointments may not be possible if you have a local speech and language therapist who will also be attending.

Let us know if you would like to be contacted about a short-notice appointment.

If you wish to be given the next available appointment by paying for your assessment privately please contact us. The fee for a private assessment (UK families) is £1,000.

My child isn't stammering much at the moment - does this matter? I'm worried that you won't see how much of a problem it can be.

Please don’t worry if this is the case. Stammering varies a lot and we won’t necessarily see your child stammering in the same way that you may at home or on other days. You will be able to talk things through with your therapist so that he or she fully understands how your child’s speech can be at other times.

Can I sit in on my child's session?

If your child’s assessment happens over two appointments then you may be invited to sit in and watch if that will help your child feel comfortable and concentrate well. When children are older, or if it is harder for your child to concentrate with a parent in the room then your therapist may suggest that you wait outside. Older children may use the session best when they are on their own with the therapist. Parents do not routinely sit in the session once their child is at secondary school.

I would like to have an interpreter to help in the session - is that possible?

Let us know on your referral form that you would like an interpreter. We make every effort to provide professional interpreters through Whittington Health NHS services. Sometimes it is not possible to find an interpreter and in this case we will contact you beforehand.

We confirmed our appointment but now my partner cannot come to our parents' session. Should I come on my own?

No. Please contact us as soon as you know that this is the case as we will not go ahead with only one of you here. Contacting us early means that we can get in touch with your local speech and language therapist, if you have one, in good time, and also give someone else the slot. We will make a new appointment for a date when you can both attend.

We are two parents who are living separately and no longer in a relationship but who are both involved in parenting our child. Should we both come to the parents' appointment?

We will value meeting with both of you but we prefer to offer separate appointments to parents who live separately.

Please let us know on your referral form that you live separately or call us to let us know that this is the case before you make plans.

Why is the parents' appointment so long?

It takes about 2 and a half hours to complete a case history with parents and the same amount of time for the child or young person to complete their assessment.

If your child and you are both attending at the same time there is a break which lasts for about 30-40 minutes when your two MPC therapists and your local therapist will confer.

Finally your therapist will give you some information about stammering, go through your child’s assessment results and discuss the main things which seem to contribute to their vulnerability to stammering. Time is also spent discussing recommendations, answering any questions that you have and agreeing a plan.

Altogether this takes about 4 hours. Please make sure you plan your journey accordingly.

How are decisions made about what to do next?

Our staff will work with you, your son or daughter, and your local therapist to help you decide what you would like to do next.

We offer suggestions and recommendations based on our time with you and our expertise in stammering and we then invite you to consider what you would like to do.

With our teenage clients we encourage them to be active in this decision making process and we explain this at the beginning of the session.

Sometimes people make decisions while they are here, and sometimes people take more time to think things over. Occasionally we need to find out more about what local services can provide before we finalise the plan.

If we come to an assessment does this mean that our child will need to come to the MPC for therapy?

Not necessarily. If you have a local SLT and they can provide your therapy then we will make recommendations to support that and also provide follow up.

Sometimes families do come to us for therapy. This decision is made together by the MPC therapists the local NHS therapy service and yourselves, taking your preferences into account.

Who pays for the therapy if we want to come to the MPC?

If you live in a borough where we have an agreement with local NHS Commissioners then your therapy will be paid for under this agreement.

If you live in a borough where we have a pathway for applying for funding to local NHS Commissioners then we will be able to apply for funding for your child to attend the centre. The length of time that this takes varies and it is not always successful.

When funding is refused we can apply to Action for Stammering Children to support your child’s therapy.

It is also possible to pay for your therapy privately. 

Young people

What to expect

You will have time with one of the MPC therapists. If you have a local SLT who comes to the session with you, and if you are 15 or over, then, if you agree, your therapist may also join your session. If you prefer that they do not join your session you can let us know.

Your MPC therapist will spend time finding out from you about your stammer, how it is affecting things for you, and whether you are wanting therapy at this point. You will have already completed some questionnaires before coming to your appointment and the therapist may have a couple more for you to fill in as well.

If you are willing, the therapist will ask you to do some reading aloud and talking about a topic of interest to you while you are being video-recorded. Your stammering probably varies so this is just a snapshot but it can help us to see a bit of what it can be like for you.

The most important part of your session is the conversation that you have with the therapist. Your therapist will ask you a lot of questions but it isn’t any kind of test. There are no right or wrong answers, it is just a way for us to get to know you. This matters because everyone’s experience of stammering is different.

Your therapist will talk a bit about stammering with you if you are interested to know more about it. He or she will check that they have  understood your point of view and will tell you about therapy options that seem to be a good fit and that you can think about.

No-one will tell you what to do. Your views matter and this session is a chance for you to decide for yourself what you want.

What if I don't want therapy at the moment?

We want you to feel in charge of the decisions that are made so if you prefer to not have therapy at the moment then that’s ok.

What if I don't stammer much on the day that I come to the MPC?

That’s ok. We know that stammering varies a lot. We may not see your stammer the way it can be on some days, but you’ll be able to tell us about it.

Do my parents have to come too?

If you are over 16, then you do not have to have a parent come with you, however we still recommend that you have one parent come along. When parents come too they have their own, separate session with another MPC therapist.

SLTs

You will be invited to attend the assessment clinic if:

  • you made the referral.
  • a colleague that you have taken over from has previously made the referral.
  • parents have made the referral and told us that you are working with their child.

What to expect

You will have time with the MPC therapists before the session starts. This is so we can find out what you are hoping for from the session. This may be fairly general if you have only recently met your client, or you may have specific ways that you hope that the assessment will help.

Once the assessment session starts you will be watching the MPC therapist. We will ask you to not take notes during this part of the assessment.

If you are attending with a young person aged 15 or over then, with their consent, we will invite you to sit in on their session.

If you are attending with a pre-school or school-age child then we will invite you to sit in on the session with parents.

There is a break in the assessment during which you and both of the MPC therapists will have time to share information about the assessment, reflect on what you know and agree recommendations. Your view during this discussion is valued. You can take notes during this time.

The assessment clinic finishes with a discussion time with parents, and if appropriate with the child or young person. This is when the MPC therapist working with the parents will talk them through about the assessment results and the key ideas that have come up. We aim to finish the assessment clinic with a clear plan of action that everyone feels is a good fit for them.

What is the waiting time for an appointment?

Expect to wait 4-5 months from your making the referral to your client’s assessment date. Please contact us if you feel that your client needs an urgent appointment.

How much notice will I receive of the appointment?

We normally send out appointment letters three months ahead of the assessment date. If you confirm an appointment and then later request an alternative, this may result in a delay for the family of up to 2 months.

Can I attend by Skype?

Yes. Please let us know beforehand that you would like to do this and confirm that you have the parents’ or young person’s consent.

The referral form asks for language assessments to be done. How important is this?

Very important. Please help us by completing the language assessments required before the assessment date. This gives us more time in the session to focus on stammering and possible therapy directions.

I made the referral but am now leaving my post/will be on leave. What should I do?

Please let us know who we should contact to attend with the family instead. This should ideally be a therapist who will go on to work with the family if therapy takes place locally.

How will decisions about recommendations be made?

The clinical team (MPC therapists plus local SLT) discuss the assessment and recommendations together before these are discussed with the parents or young person. Our aim is to work with you so that our recommendations reflect what everyone feels is clinically appropriate.

Assessment and therapy at the MPC
THE MICHAEL PALIN CENTER HELPLINE

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to

HELPLINE

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to

Our Helpline, 020 3316 8100, is open during office hours (9am-5pm) and voicemail messages can be left when the office is closed.

“It gave me a better understanding of how to talk about stammering with my son and how to help him with his speech and his emotions.”

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