SP in Schools project 2017 Low Res V2

The impact of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)

Speech, language and communication skills such as knowledge of the sounds of language, phonological awareness, vocabulary, and the ability to understand sentence and story structure underpin learning. Communication is the means by which learning is facilitated and assessed. The curriculum is heavily reliant on oral language skills; without strong foundational communication skills children are at risk of falling behind in many areas. When children have ongoing difficulties in language-learning the gap is compounded between typical language learners and those with speech language and communication needs. Children’s communication abilities strongly predict their later reading skills, with a sixfold increased chance of reading problems for children with poor language skills. Children with developmental language disorders have demonstrably weaker skills in areas (such as their ability to remember, discriminate and identify sounds in words, or to understand the structure of stories) that are crucial for reading development. In addition, their speech, language and communication needs may impact on their vocabulary, verbal reasoning skills, and their ability to analyse the structure or meaning of words and sentences, so that even if they can decode words while reading, they may not understand.

Children’s social communication skills may also be compromised, so that they have difficulty interacting appropriately to make friends, participate in conversations, and to negotiate and make choices, all of which are an important part of school life. Their problems include use of inappropriate strategies for negotiation and conflict resolution and difficulty in understanding non-verbal social cues such as facial expressions and gestures. These problems impact on their ability to interact socially and communication needs are at greater risk of bullying and report less school enjoyment than peers. Over half of children with poor speech, language and communication skills also have a behavioural disorder, further reducing learning opportunities, options and effectiveness, and leading to disengagement from school. Research into the outcomes for children with language impairment in early childhood identified that these children were twice as likely to show internalising and externalising behavioural problems in later childhood and adolescence. Further, children with a history of language impairment were over 1.5 times more likely to meet the criteria for ADHD in later childhood or adolescence than their typically developing peers. problems increase as children grow. Children with speech, language and


Speech Pathology Australia: Speech Pathology in Schools Project

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