Improving the life chances of children and young people with speech, language,
communication and sensory needs should not be difficult, but too often children's individual needs are missed. Over time the child's struggle to cope in school, at home and socially impacts their
confidence and resillience. Yet there is clear evidence that early intervention and action can change this.
Work by the Communications Trust, in its paper, A Generation Adrift (aGA) outlines the issues. 10% of all children have long term Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). Typically only 3% are diagnosed.
SLCN cut across the child’s whole development. The children are missed, misinterpreted, misunderstood. SLCN are an indicator of poor life outcomes, in education, health and wellbeing.
What can parents, teachers and other professionals do when a child is struggling at school or socially?
1. Question the child's communication and sensory needs (there are initial check lists on the communications trust website and links to the charities Afasic and ICAN - all specialists)
2. Seek information about the child (an educational or health professional can help)
3. Identify and use the strategies that will help that individual young person attain academically and socially.
Case Study - James, Age 10 (A Generation Adrift - The Communications Trust)
James was referred to speech and language therapy when he was 10 years old. The school believed he was dyslexic or had learning difficulties. He was a quiet, hardworking member of the class; he could read fluently and accurately but couldn't understand what he had read. His language assessment showed that his understanding of language and grammar to be on the first percentile;*his understanding of language was extremely poor. James was extremely bright and had become adept at hiding his significant language impairment.
*When talking about 'percentile measurements,' professionals indicate how children perform in comparison to a group of 100 others. So in James's case, despite him being "extremely bright", in comparison to 100 children 99 would be more skilled in understanding grammar and language than him - a really significant difficulty was identified. With this knowledge a range of strategies and help could be used to support his academic and social attainment.