Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)

The term speech, language and communication needs is used for children and young people who have difficulty with their communication. This difficulty may be minor, temporary, or more complex and long term.    

  • Have speech that is difficult to understand    
  • Struggle to say words or sentences   
  • Not understand words that are being used, or the instructions they hear  
  • Have difficulties knowing how to talk and listen to others in a conversation 

Speech, language and communication needs can also be as a result of another condition such as:

  • Specific language impairment (SLI)       
  • Learning difficulties  
  • Down Syndrome       
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)       
  • Cerebral Palsy       
  • Stammer       
  • Hearing impairment       
  • Cleft Lip and Palate

For more information on speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) go to the following websites:  

Language development

Go to the support and advices section of the Berkshire Healthcare NHS children, young people and families services website to find information on stages of development and strategies to support your child in developing their communication skills.

The Talking Point website has an online progress checker, which will give you an indication of your child’s language development.

Worried about your child

Speech and language

If you are worried about your child’s speech and language, speak to your health visitor.

From the 9 January 2024 you can call the new Early Years Speech and Language enquiries line, open 9:30am until 3:30pm Tuesday's and Thursday's. A Speech and Language Therapist will be available to talk through your concerns.

Preschoolers Speech and Language Enquiry line: 0118 904 3700

Further support can be found on the Berkshire Healthcare NHS website.

School age children

If your child is of school age speak to their teacher or the schools Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) about your concerns.

You can also visit the support and advice section of the Berkshire Healthcare NHS children, young people and families services website to find self help techniques to support your child in developing their communication skills.           

You may also consider having your child’s hearing check if they have difficulties with listening, understanding or talking. Contact your Health Visitor or GP to ask them to refer your child for a hearing assessment.

Process for getting assessed for Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Under 5s

The Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provide speech and language drop in clinics for children under 5 years of age.  

A speech and language therapist will carry out a short assessment of your child’s speech and language skills. The therapist will do this by watching your child play, and joining in. 

Find your nearest drop in clinic

School age children 

Speak to your child’s schools SENCO who will liaise with the speech and language therapist who attends the school. 

If your child is home educated or attends an independent school you can complete the online referral form on the Berkshire Healthcare NHS children, young people and families services website.  

For urgent referral request contact the HealthHub on 0300 365 1234.

What different professionals do to support a child with SLCN

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

The Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust speech and language team work with children and young people with speech, language or communication difficulties. They also work with children experiencing eating and drinking difficulties.

Visit the Berkshire Healthcare NHS children, young people and families services website for further information.

Speech and Language Therapist may see a child at:    

  • A children centre
  • Their nursery, pre-school or school
  • At hospital or local healthcare centre

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

The children’s speech and language department at the Royal Berkshire hospital provide therapy services for children with a hearing loss, cleft lip and palate, voice disorders, along with advice on managing auditory processing disorders. 

Clinics are held jointly with Audiology and ENT. Some clinics are held in schools and in community clinics. 

Visit the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust website for further information.

What can I do as a parent/carer to support my child with SLCN?

The following website provide useful advice and information for parents and carers on speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) including strategies and self-help techniques to support your child in developing their communication skills:   

Finding the right school to meet your child's needs

School’s Local Offer information

Every school must publish information about how it supports children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities - this is known as its Local Offer.

To read a school’s Local Offer information go to their directory listing. The Local Offer information should cover:  

  • What provision the school make for children with speech, language and communication needs    
  • How the school adapt the curriculum for speech, language and communication needs  
  • How targets are set, supported and reviewed to help a child progress  
  • How the school staff monitor the progress of a child    
  • How the school ensure a successful transition between nursery and school and between the different school stages   
  • What training teachers and teaching assistants have in relation to speech, language and communication need.  
  • What other professionals the school work with to support children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
  • How information is communicate to parents and carers

Each schools website will have an annual Special Educational Needs (SEN) information report.

When choosing a school for your child it is important to visit by either making an appointment or attending an open day. Find out who the schools Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) is and arrange to speak with them.

Things to consider when choosing a school to meet your child’s needs

Visit the Afasic website to download an information sheet on questions to ask when visiting a school. 

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) has produced a useful checklist to use when visiting a school (PDF document.)

Useful information

The following organisations provide advice and support to parents and carers via a helpline or an online service: 

 

You can find a private speech and language therapist through the association of speech and language therapists in independent practice (ASLTIP) website. 

Visit other related information pages:

For further local and national support services and organisations search the SEND Local Offer directory

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Page last reviewed: 04/01/2024

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