Speech and language difficulties? What does that mean?

As speech and language therapists working on the I CAN Help Enquiry Service we get to talk to so many parents about all sorts of different concerns about their children.  One of the questions that gets asked time and time again is this one: “Why does my child have delayed speech and language?”  And this week, it looks to be a hot topic on the forums of Mumsnet too.

Well, the honest answer is that for some children we just don’t know why their speech and language is delayed, it could be for a whole number of reasons.  So, bearing that in mind, what do we know about speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)?

Well, sometimes children can have difficulties that are caused by having another condition such as a hearing impairment or learning difficulty; the delays in learning language are caused by these difficulties. For other children, it could be a syndrome or difficulty like autistic spectrum disorder or cerebral palsy that is causing the problems.

But, for some children, there is no other cause that can be identified; their SLCN are the only difficulty they have, and in every other way they are developing just fine. This means that the only part of their development that is affected is their talking and understanding.  This can be confusing for parents as SLCN is not a difficulty that we hear lots about. Understandably, they often then wonder if there is a link to some other part of their child’s development, or something else going on.  We do know that with the right help, most children with SLCN will catch up and develop good communication skills; a small number of children will go on to need extra help.  If you want to read more about SLCN, why not look at the Talking Point website as it’s full of information about speech, language and communication development.

And don’t forget, if you are concerned about your child’s talking or understanding, get in touch with your local speech and language therapy service to talk it through with them.  You may also want to contact the I CAN Help Enquiry Service; you can book a free call back from a speech and language therapist by calling 0207 843 2544.

Don’t forget that I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge has been Campaign of the Week on Mumsnet – big thanks to them.