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Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Speech, Language and Communication Needs


Speech, language and communication underpin everything we do including making our needs known, expressing our likes and dislikes, interacting with others, making relationships and is crucial for learning. Some children have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) as they find parts of communication difficult. It is not always obvious that a child has a SLCN and sometimes only becomes diagnosed after a child starts school.


Speech, Language and Communication Needs are split into 3 main areas:

· Difficulties with speech sounds

· Difficulties with understanding and producing language, also known as receptive and expressive skills

· Difficulties with social communication skills and includes Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome


Some children may have difficulty in only one of these areas but others may have difficulties in more than one. Some children may have difficulties that can be helped quite easily, whereas others may have greater needs. Sometimes children develop their skills in the usual way, but at a slower rate. This is often called a ‘delay’ or ‘delayed speech and language development’.


To support pupils with SLCN, Horizon Primary Academy recognise and use a range of strategies. These include visual reinforcements, social stories, visual timetables, Communicate in Print, colourful semantics, pre-teaching vocabulary, Clicker 6, task management boards and working walls. We also provide targeted interventions for speech, language and social skills.




A child’s speech is an important part of their development and it is vital for developing reading and spelling skills. Most children will be using a wide range of speech sounds by the time they are 5 years, but some children will have difficulty in developing these skills.


The areas of difficulties can be due to the following reasons:


· Muscles used to create different sounds. This can be due to muscle weakness and may be linked to difficulties like cerebral palsy.

· Sending messages from the brain to make different speech sounds. This may sometimes be described as 'dyspraxia'.

· Learning and using different sounds to make words. This can be called ‘phonological difficulties’.


A child may use only use a small number of sounds, swap one sound for another e.g. saying 'tat' instead of 'cat', missing the ends off words or have difficulty with vowel sounds e.g. saying 'poor' instead of 'pear' or 'pot' instead of 'pat'.


If a child has difficulties with their speech, Horizon Primary Academy will assess them using Speechlink and an intervention programme will be agreed. A referral to our commissioned Speech and Language Therapist or the NHS Speech and Language Service may be recommended if adequate progress is not made following the intervention.




Language is the vehicle for learning. It enables understanding and expression of thought, it supports thinking, problem solving and reasoning and it is accepted as being critical to cognitive development. Language is split into two areas, receptive and expressive language.


· Receptive – Understanding what has been said to us.

· Expressive – Being able to say a sentence in a logical way, putting the right words in the right order or being able to recall words (word retrieval).


At Horizon Primary Academy we use two types of assessment for assessing language, which are called Language for Learning and Language Link. All reception pupils are assessed using Language Link when they start school. All other pupils can be assessed using Language Link or Language for Learning, if needed.


If a child is assessed and considered to have difficulties with language, they will be provided with a block of intervention to help develop their understanding of language. This will be delivered by our teaching assistants and reviewed by our Speech and Language Therapist. If a child continues to have difficulties it may be recommended that they are referred to the NHS Speech and Language Service for further assessment.



Social Communication Difficulties


Children with Social Communication Difficulties (SCD) have difficulty with “pragmatics”, the unspoken and subtle rules of spoken language that allow people to connect. They don’t always understand the give-and-take of a conversation. Some of them monopolise conversations or interrupt a lot whereas others are reluctant to talk at all.


Some children will have a diagnoses of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s Syndrome, which covers a set of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioural challenges. ASD affects children in different ways and can range from mild to severe.


At Horizon Primary Academy, we support pupils with social communication skills through social skills interventions such as Lego Therapy. Pupils can also be supported through the use of social stories, comic strip conversations and our mentor/ buddy system.


If a child requires additional support for their social communication difficulties, Horizon Primary Academy can support a referral to Community Paediactrics for an assessment for ASD. A referral to LIFT (Local Inclusion Forum Team) can also be made to gain advice from specialist teachers service.


Useful Websites (click to go to website):


Language Link Parent Leaflets: