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Speech, language and communication needs

"Speech, language and communication underpin everything we do - making our needs known, expressing our likes and dislikes, interacting with others and building relationships. We often take these skills for granted, but many children struggle to communicate". (I CAN, 2013)

Communication skills should be nurtured and nourished, as they are so important in all aspects of a young person's life. Difficulties in communication can have a significant affect and may impact upon a young person's behaviour and mental health.

A large number of young people are affected by speech, language and communication needs (often referred to as SLCN). In some areas up to 50% of children will start primary school with some form of SLCN, some of which can be resolved with appropriate support. About 1 in 10 will have a long-term difficulty which needs ongoing support.

Many communication needs can be difficult to spot, hidden or subtle, though the impact can be significant.

What are speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)?

Young people with SLCN can have difficulties speaking, listening and understanding, or with reading and writing. SLCN may occur as a main/ primary difficulty and this may be referred to as a specific language impairment. They may also be associated with another condition, such as being on the Autism Spectrum, having a hearing impairment, dyspraxia, dyslexia, or a learning disability. More information on the specific communication needs of each of these conditions can be found in the Scouting speaks to all resource.

Each young person will be different, but the difficulties they experience might include;

The young person may find communicating a frustrating or stressful experience. There is a chance that behavioural issues may arise as a result and these may be the indicators of SLCN that adults are first faced with.

All young people have a valuable contribution to make and can be encouraged to communicate. Some young people with SLCN may need a little extra support to communicate verbally, whereas some may use other means to help them communicate eg. signs, symbols.

Practical tips
For more information see Promoting Positive Behaviour

Scouting speaks to all
We have produced a guide called Scouting speaks to all: a Leaders' guide to speech, language and communication needs to help leaders improve the Scouting experience for young people with these difficulties.

The downloadable resource contains:

Communication needs covered include specific language impairment, dyslexia and dyspraxia, hearing impairment and the autism spectrum.

This resource was produced with advice from specialist charity, The Communication Trust.

View Scouting speaks to all: a Leaders' guide to speech, language and communication needs (PDF)  



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