Skip links and keyboard navigation

Speech and language delay

Useful management information

  • Refer to Health pathways or local guidelines
  • Consider referral to speech pathology or child health clinician for developmental speech and language screening in children
  • Consider referral to General paediatrician if there are significant developmental delays
  • Manage any middle ear pathology initially
  • Hearing impairment may be permanent or temporary
  • Passing newborn hearing screening does not exclude mild hearing loss or preclude late onset or progressive hearing loss

Clinical Resources

Patient Resources

Minimum referral criteria (Does your patient meet the minimum criteria?)

Does your patient meet the minimum referral criteria?

Category 1
(appointment within 30 calendar days) 
  • No category 1 criteria
Category 2
(appointment within 90 calendar days)
  • Diagnosed by a speech pathologist as having a severe speech or language impairment
  • Suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Diagnosed with a significant additional disability, syndrome or disorder
Category 3
(appointment within 365 calendar days)
  • Speech and language milestones are delayed
  • Making slow progress with regular speech pathology support

If your patient does not meet the minimum referral criteria  

  • Find assessment and management information can be found on a range of conditions at Brisbane South HealthPathways
  • If the patient does not meet the criteria for referral but the referring practitioner believes the patient requires specialist review, a clinical override may be requested:
    • Please explain why (e.g. warning signs or symptoms, clinical modifiers, uncertain about diagnosis, etc.)
    • Please note that your referral may not be accepted or may be redirected to another service

Standard referral information (To be included in all referrals)

Reason for request

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

Relevant clinical information about the condition

  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • All conservative options that have been pursued unsuccessfully prior to referral
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes, BMI), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Any special care requirements where relevant (e.g tracheostomy in place, oxygen required)
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use
  • A comprehensive capture of information in relation to MSH Referral Criteria

Clinical modifiers

  • The presence of clinical modifiers may impact the categorisation of the patient.
  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living functioning – low/medium/high
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Patient's Demographic Details

  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date and country of birth
  • Residential and postal address including whether patient resides at an aged care facility
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Name of delegate and contact details (Department of Corrective Services)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Any special needs, access requirements and/or disability relevant to the referral

Referring Practitioner Details

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature
  • Nominated general practitioner’s details (if known), if the nominated general practitioner is different from the referring practitioner

Other relevant information

  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)


Essential referral information for Speech and language delay referrals (Referral will be returned without this)

  • Provide information of nature of the speech and language concern
  • Additional behavioural issues
  • Social modifiers i.e. effect on home schooling, out of home residence
  • Otological history

Additional referral information for Speech and language delay referrals

  • Clinical observation of hearing
  • Previous audiology results
  • Family history of hearing loss/ASD
  • Any other health care professionals are currently involved (e.g. other Allied Health Professionals, Health Clinicians)


If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

Paediatric Hearing loss

  • Sudden loss or deterioration

Paediatric Otitis media

  • Any suspicions Mastoiditis (proptosis of pinna), meningitis or other complication of ASOM
  • Trauma
  • New onset facial nerve palsy

Other referrals to emergency not covered within these conditions (Paediatric)

  • Foreign body
  • ENT conditions with associated neurological signs e.g. facial nerve palsy, profound vertigo and/or sudden deterioration in sensorineural hearing
  • Acute and/or complicated mastoiditis
  • Auricular haematoma
  • Significant head injury
  • Congenital abnormality of the head/neck
  • Meningitis/encephalitis

Out of catchment

Metro South Health is responsible for providing public health services to the people who reside within its boundaries. Special consideration is made for patients requiring tertiary care or services that are not provided by their local Hospital and Health Service.  If your patient lives outside the Metro South Health area and you wish to refer them to one of our services, inclusion of information regarding their particular medical and social factors will assist with the triaging of your referral.

Last updated 19 January 2023