Supporting a child with a Speech and Language Difficulty

Supporting a child with a Speech and Language Difficulty
Throughout my time in Mainstream Education, I worked with several children who had Dyspraxia.  For an Ofsted Visit we were due I created some How to help leaflets for various SEN barriers that children may have. 
This is about supporting a child with a Speech and Language Difficulty. 
Some children may not have developed to the level expected for their chronological age so may be described as having a Speech and Language Difficulty. 
These difficulties may be associated with a broad range of developmental conditions such as 
  • Learning disability
  • Physical disability (eg cerebral palsy)
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Structural abnormality (eg cleft palate)
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
In a small number of cases Speech and Language difficulties may be present as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. 
Very often pupils will have been assessed at Junior School and will be under Speech and Language with a plan set out to work with the individual or will be receiving some support from an outside agency. 


A child with a Speech and Language Diffiulty (SPLD) may have :-
  • Difficulty in following instructions
  • Difficulty with expressive language
  • Attention problems especially when in a large group
  • Difficulty in answering questions
  • Behavioural problems
  • A misunderstanding of written language
  • Difficulty in taking turns
  • A lack of flexiblity in thinking and interaction
  • Persistent difficulties in establishing peer relationships especially in unstructured times.
  • In producing fluent smooth speech
  • A hoarse or husky voice


Some strategies ;-
  • Have a regular routine
  • Sit the child near to you or at the front of the class
  • Ensure that the child realises that they should be listening and focussing when you are speaking to the class or to them
  • Try to keep background noise to a minimum
  • Allow the child time out if they need it.  A child with a Speech and Language difficulty can become very tired from the effort they put in to attend, to listen and to process language
  • Plan ahead.  You will know whether or not the child is likely to encounter problems in any given session.  How will you modify the activity or the expection to ensure they succeed.
  • Use in class support to help the pupil
  • Summarise key points at regular intervals.
  • Check that the key points have been understood before moving on to the next task.
  • When asking questions you may find that the child will need extra time to answer
  • Talk with the child about what they find most helpful.  This is also a good way of developing a ‘working relationship’.
  • Be aware of times in the day that may cause the child confusion  ie transition between lessons/sessions.
  • Ensure you have the pupil’s attention before you start talking
  • Talk slowly and clearly but with normal intonation and emphasis.
Use websites
Afasic is a UK Charity that supports children and young people with Speech and Language Impairments and their parents/carers.
The also provide support and Information to the Professionals.
Their services include support through National and Regional development Officers, a helpline dealing with all aspects of Speech and Language impairments, courses and training as well as numerous publications


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