What is Speech and Language Therapy
Speech, language and communication difficulties are on the increase amongst children in the UK. According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, 7% of five-year-olds have a specific speech and language impairment, and another 1.8% have speech, language, or communication difficulties linked to another condition, like autism or cerebral palsy.
That means that in every Reception class, two to three children are likely to have problems communicating.
Many of these children will be referred for speech and language therapy (SLT).
- Language delays/disorders: a difficulty with language, such as a delay in starting to talk, problems understanding or retaining vocabulary, or problems using the correct word order. A child may be developing normally in other areas, but behind with their language skills. Language difficulties may go alongside conditions such as dyspraxia, or caused by glue ear: a condition where the ear canals are blocked by mucus.
- Speech delays/disorders: problems with producing speech sounds. Children might have difficulty with specific sounds (such as saying ‘t’ instead of ‘c’ – so ‘car’ becomes ‘tar’) or a range of sounds.
- Social communication delays/disorders: also known as pragmatic communication disorders. In this case, children struggle with the social side of communication, like holding conversations. Many children with autism spectrum disorders have problems in this area.
- Medical or genetic needs: this includes conditions such as cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and hearing impairment. Some children need SLT due to overuse of a dummy, and some because they have problems chewing, swallowing, or drinking.