Assessments for 2-18s

Information for parents at the MPC

We look forward to meeting you and your son or daughter. If you have any questions that are not covered below please phone us on 020 3316 8100 or email [email protected]

While there is no cost to yourself or your local CCG/NHS Trust for your child’s assessment, the actual cost of the assessment is £1,000. Missed appointments are costly for our service. Please help us to minimise missed sessions by making sure that you have read all of the information below and calling us if you have any queries.

Getting your appointment

You will receive your appointment letter and some online and paper questionnaires to fill in. Please complete these and send them back to us before you come in for your appointment.

Depending on where you live you will receive either one or two appointments. The waiting time for an appointment is approximately 4 months.

I live in Camden or Islington (or am registered with a Camden or Islington GP), or I live in Newham and my child is over 7.

You will receive two appointments about a week apart. The first is for your child to attend with one of you. It is not necessary for both parents to attend the first appointment.

The second is for both parents or carers. We require both parents or carers to attend if there are two adults at home in a parenting role and the session will not take place if one parent does not attend. Your child does not attend this second appointment.
You will meet one MPC therapist who will see you for both of your appointments.

I live elsewhere in the UK

You will receive one appointment. Both parents (if there are two parents at home) and your child will attend together. We require both parents or carers to attend if there are two adults at home in a parenting role and the parent session will not take place if one parent does not attend. You will meet with two MPC therapists, one of whom will spend time with your child while the other spends time with you.

In person or online?

You and your child can attend either in person at the Centre or by telehealth e.g. using Zoom. Please let us know which you prefer.

If you are interested in attending by telehealth you can watch one of our therapists, Rosie Markland, explaining how telehealth appointments work and what you will need in the following video.

If your child wants to know how it will work then watch this video together and listen to our therapist Sophie Card explaining things for children.

Let us know if you would rather wait until we can offer you an appointment in person. Email [email protected] or call 020 3316 8100. Please be aware that we can not say how long it will be until we offer face-to-face assessments.

At your appointment

In your child’s session the MPC therapist will:

  • have a chat with your child to get a sense of whether they are aware of stammering, are bothered by it and whether they would like help.
  • make a short video-recording of your child reading aloud and talking about something they are interested in so we can get a snapshot of what their talking can be like.
  • complete some language assessments.
  • ask your child to complete one other questionnaire.

In your parent session your MPC therapist will:

  • ask you questions in order to get to know your child. Many things can influence stammering so we want to get a broad picture as possible of their life.
  • take time for discussion with the MPC therapist who saw your child while you have free time with your child in our waiting area.
  • meet with you again to give you information about stammering, tell you about your child’s session and the results of their assessment, and discuss therapy options with you.
  • agree a plan with you, that you feel is right for your child.

If you live outside Camden or Islington and have one appointment only there will be a break of about 20-30 minutes for the therapists to talk together before telling you about your child’s assessment.

We sometimes have student speech and language therapists, or qualified speech and language therapists training with us which means that they sit in on sessions where people agree to this. You will always be asked how you feel about someone observing your session before it happens and it is ok to say no if that is what you prefer.

After your appointment

We will write a report and send it to you by email. Once you have approved it, or when a period of two weeks has elapsed, we will email or post it to all professionals who are on the list at the end of the report.

Some families start therapy at the MPC after their assessment, while others continue to attend therapy locally. Your therapist will make decisions about this, with you, at your appointment, taking into account your child’s needs, what therapy is available locally and your own preferences. Attending therapy at the MPC for families who are not local to Camden or Islington requires funding. This can be from local CCGs/NHS Trusts, or when that is not available, through private funding or via charitable support from the Stuttering Foundation.


How long is the appointment?

Approximately 4 hours. This gives us the time that we need to assess your child fully and have time with you to go through your child’s assessment, answer any questions that you have, and make recommendations.

Is what I say confidential?

Yes however we are legally obliged to share information with other professionals if we have concerns about a child’s safety.

It's difficult for my partner to take time off work. Can I attend on my own?

No. Your appointment is for both parents or carers, where there are two adults at home in a parenting role. Your partner can Skype in to the session, or we will be as flexible as possible in rescheduling your appointment at a time where you can both attend. Please email [email protected] or call 020 3316 8100 to talk with us about your appointment.

We have confirmed our appointment but one of us now can't come to the appointment - what should we do?

Please let us know as soon as possible. Email [email protected] or call us on 020 3316 8100. Our parent sessions are for both parents or carers, where there are two adults at home with a parenting role. We will re-schedule your appointment for a time when you can both attend. If you have a local speech and language therapist attending with you it will help them to have as much notice as possible of any change of plans. Please be aware that if we need to re-schedule your appointment it can mean a delay of several months.

My partner and I live separately. Should we both come?

No. Please let us know beforehand that this is the case. Email [email protected] or telephone 020 3316 8100. As a general rule we will prefer to offer you each your own parent session.

Will we be in a different room than our child?

If you have been given one appointment then you will be in a different room than your child (if you are attending the centre). For young children we make sure that the rooms are next door to each other, that your child knows where you will be and that they can come and see you at any time. We may invite you and your child to have a short playtime together to help them settle in.

If you have been given two appointments, you may be able to sit in with your child when they have their session. However sometimes children are able to concentrate better when they do not have a parent in the room and this will be taken into account. Older children and teenagers often find it helpful to have time with a therapist on their own and we generally recommend this.

What if my child is not stammering much on the day?

That is ok. The amount that a child stammers typically varies, depending on many factors so we know that we may or may not see your child stammering in the way that you do. You will be able to tell us more about the overall picture so that we understand how things generally are.

Our local speech and language therapist will be coming with us. What will they do?

We will have time with your therapist before your sessions start so that we can get an update on any work they have been doing with you and your child and also find out what they would like to get from the session. Your therapist will then sit in with either your own or your child’s session.

Can I have an interpreter to help?

Yes. Please let us know if you prefer to use a language other than English and we will arrange an interpreter through Whittington Health NHS Trust Interpreting Services. Our policy is to have professional interpreters arranged through the Trust rather than family members interpreting.

Why is the appointment so long?

It takes about 2 hours to complete a case history with parents and the same amount of time for the child or young person to complete their assessment. There is a break in the middle which lasts for about 30-40 minutes so that the two MPC therapists and your local therapist can confer. Then there is a final conversation for parents with their therapist to talk about stammering in general and answer any questions, go through the assessment results, and to discuss the main things which seem to contribute to the child or young person’s vulnerability to stammering. Older children and young people also have time to talk about these issues with their therapist. There is also time to discuss recommendations and agree a plan that everyone is happy with. This section takes about an hour.

What happens in my son or daughter's session?

The therapist working with your son or daughter will

  • assess their stammering by recording a speech sample and analysing this
  • go through a structured conversation with your son or daughter about their speech, in order to get a sense of how much and in what way stammering affects them
  • look at questionnaires that have been completed
  • complete a screening assessment for language skills if this has not been done already by local therapist

The therapist will also be gauging your son or daughter’s interest in therapy, talking about stammering with him or her at a level that is appropriate to their age and awareness of stammering.

What happens in the parent session?

The therapist will ask you about different aspects of your son or daughter’s life. This includes their stammer but also school life, friends, family life, health etc. Stammering is complex and many things can contribute to either making a child vulnerable to stammering or exacerbating a vulnerability. We know parents don’t cause stammering, but we do want to make the most of your expertise which is why we ask both parents to be there.

You will have time to ask questions about stammering generally, hear about the assessment results, share your conclusions with the therapist and make a decision together about what you would like to do next.

How are decisions made?

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, while sometimes people take more time to think things over.

What if my son or daughter does not stammer much on the day?

This doesn’t matter. We know that stammering varies and that we may or may not see your child’s stammer the way you do elsewhere or at other times. You will be able to tell us about how it can be at other times to help us get the big picture.

What if one of us (parents) cannot attend on the day?

Please do call us to talk about this as soon as you know that this is the case. We place great emphasis on meeting with both parents where this is the structure of the family and so we won’t go ahead with the parent session. We will either see your child and make a new booking for you, or reschedule the whole thing. Assessment clinics are booked several months in advance and while we try to reschedule as soon as possible inevitably it can mean a delay.

We (parents) have separated - is it still important that we both attend?

If you are both actively involved  in parenting then it is ideal that both of you attend, however we would typically offer each of you your own session. Occasionally, separated or divorced parents are particularly keen to attend together but many prefer to have separate sessions. Please make sure that you have noted on your referral form that you live separately so we can get in touch to decide with you the best way to proceed.

Where will therapy happen?

This depends – on what is available locally, what your child needs and what your own preference is. Sometimes we are asked to make recommendations which are carried out by a local therapist rather than deliver the therapy at the Centre but sometimes families come to us for therapy. This decision is made collaboratively between MPC staff and the local therapy service and yourself.  If families come here for therapy then funding agreements between the Michael Palin Centre and the family’s local NHS commissioners need to be agreed, unless private therapy has been requested.

Assessments for 2-18s

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to


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.

“Essential for all speech and language therapists with a stammering caseload to go on this. It’s re-booted how I work” (July 2019).


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