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 or SLCN as they find an aspect 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 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, Temple Grove Academy recognise and use a range of strategies. These include visual reinforcements, social stories, visual timetables, Communicate in Print, colour semantics, pre-teaching vocabulary, Clicker 6, task management boards, Makaton 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, Temple Grove Academy will assess them using Speechlink and an intervention programme will be agreed. A referral to 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’s accepted as being critical to cognitive development. Language is split into two areas, receptive and expressive language.
At Temple Grove 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 at TGA. 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. If a child continues to have difficulties it will be recommended that they are referred to NHS Speech and Language Service for further assessment.
Social Communication Difficulties
Children with 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 monopolize 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 behavioral challenges. ASD affects children in different ways and can range from mild to severe.
At Temple Grove Academy we support pupils with social communication skills through social skills interventions such as Socially Speaking, Friendship Terrace and Lego Therapy. Pupils can also be supported through the use of social stories, comic strip conversations and a buddy system.
If a child requires additional support for their social communication difficulties TGA 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.
The Balanced System – Scheme for Schools
The Balanced System Scheme for Schools is a whole system approach to improving outcomes for children and young people across the range of speech, language and communication needs (www.thebalancedsystem.org). Scheme for Schools provides an overarching set of outcomes, processes and outcome measures across the core five strands of the Balanced System: supporting parents, young people and families; enhancing and adapting the environment; developing the workforce; identifying need; and providing appropriate intervention.
Temple Grove Academy was awarded Scheme for Schools Accreditation in December 2016 for their support for pupils with speech, language and communication needs.
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