Speech, language and communication needs

Speech, language, and communication is important for:

  • reading
  • learning
  • making friends
  • understanding and controlling emotions or feelings.

Children and young people with speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) may have difficulty with:

  • fluency
  • forming sounds or words
  • putting together sentences
  • stammering
  • speech delay
  • expressing their likes and dislikes
  • learning to read
  • understanding what others are saying
  • talking with friends and family.

It is often referred to as a hidden difficulty, due to not being able to communicate properly. As such, children, and young people with SLCN can become withdrawn or isolated. This means that their needs are often mistaken for something else or missed.

Every child or young person with SLCN is different and may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of SLC at different times of their lives. With the right support at the right time, children, and young people with SLCN can thrive.

Sometimes a child or young person’s language disorder is associated with another condition such as:

  • autism
  • sensory loss
  • cleft palate
  • neurodegenerative conditions
  • genetic conditions, for example, cerebral palsy or Down’s syndrome.

In Kent, SLCN is the most common need in primary school, and the second most common need in secondary schools.

Support for your child or young person

If you think your child might have SLCN, you should first talk to a someone who looks after your child professionally. This could be, for example, a:

Support from your education setting

Your child or young person's education setting will be able to support them. They will be able to identify the support they need to be able to reach their full potential. This will allow your child or young person to:

  • learn
  • make friends
  • enjoy school.

Find out what SEND support and guidance is available if your child is in:

  • early years - including the best practice guidance
  • schools - including the mainstream core standards and graduated approach
  • further education - including preparing for adulthood protocols.

Or visit our community directory for local and national SLCN support.

Specialist resource provisions

A specialist resource provision (SRP) provides support for those, who without specialist input, are unlikely to make progress in their learning and will struggle to take part in mainstream school life. In time, it is expected they will be able to attend most of their mainstream lessons and take part with others.

In Kent, we have 2 specialist resource provisions for SLCN children and young people, and 2 special schools for those with more complex SLCN.

Support from the NHS

Your child or young person can also receive support from speech and language therapy (a targeted health service). The therapy provided by the NHS can support those who have difficulties in:

  • communication
  • eating
  • drinking
  • swallowing.

Find your nearest speech and language therapy.

Additional advice and support

For further independent advice and support you can: