Sarah's Thoughts The Voice Sarah's Thoughts

Speech and Language skills develop throughout childhood and continue through adolescence. They develop following good foundations being in place:  attention and listening and play skills need to be in place first.

What is Speech? What is Language? What is Communication?

  1. Speech refers to speaking with a clear voice , in a way that makes speech sound interesting and meaningful.  Speaking without hesitating too much or without repeating words or sounds and being able to to make sounds like ‘t’ and ‘k’ clearly so people can understand what you say.
  2. Language refers to talking and understanding, joining words together into sentences, stories and conversations. It’s knowing the right words to explain what you mean and making sense of what people say.
  3. Communication refers to how we interact with others, using language or gestures in different ways, for example to have a  conversation or give directions.  It’s also being able to understand other peoples points of view and understanding and using body language and facial expressions.

Why are Speech, Language and Communication Skills (SLCS) important?

SLCS are genuinely the building blocks for learning. Children use:

  • Their sounds when learning to read and spell
  • The words they know to understand and hear, to share what they think and to ask questions.

There is much evidence to show links between oral language skills and

  • Literacy skills
  • Social and emotional development
  • Behaviour
  • Attainment – oral language skills such as story telling, vocabulary knowledge and narrative.

Language of course is often the medium of teaching and learning in many schools.

Communication skills are essential for students to make friends, sort out difficulties and share experiences.

What difficulties do children and adolescents with SCLN have?

Difficulties communicating with others can arise from difficulties with:

  • Speech
  • Talking
  • Understanding what is said to them
  • Interacting

It is estimated that 10% of  all children and young people have long term or persistent SLCN

Law et al (2000) – Provision for children’s speech and language needs in England and Wales, facilitating communication between education and health services DFES research report.

SLCN can be part of another condition such as Autism, Learning Difficulties or Hearing Impairment.

Some children and young people have less severe forms of  SLCN – these may be called delayed speech, language and or communication.  The distinction here is that these children and young people follow typical patterns of development but at a slower rate.

What can we do to support children and young people with SLCN? 

Being informed about SLCN is a great starting point. With the help of The Communication Trust and the Giving Voice campaign via the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, many more of us now know how to identify and support children and young people with SLCN.


Knowing where to access great resources is also key.

We are committed to sharing useful and practical therapy resources to help you target areas of Speech, Language and Communication needs.  Keep up to date on our FREE RESOURCE DOWNLOADS 

We also committed to ensuring we can bring you up to date information of local policies and national drivers which support the needs of those with SLCN.  Read our NEWS LETTERS AND BLOGS to keep up to date with the latest information. 

Sarah Davis

June 2014

Related Content