When it comes to special educational needs (SEN), statistics show that speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) is now the most common primary type of need, at 22% of SEN pupils (RCSLT 2019).
Difficulties with attention (looking and listening), understanding others, or being able to express themselves, can mean that children with SLCN need a bit of extra support to help them communicate with others. Whether you are a parent of a child with speech and language difficulties, or you work with a child who may need additional support, here are 10 tops tips that might help.
- Remove distractions if your child has difficulties with attention, you may find they are easily distracted by more ‘exciting’ things. If you want your child to focus, try to limit distractions like background noise or the TV, and keep toys out of sight in boxes or bags.
- Get their attention first if you want your child to follow an instruction, use their name or give them a gentle tap on the arm. Make sure they are looking at you first, so that you can be sure they are listening.
- Use visuals visual timetables/pictures can help children to follow routines and choose activities (invest in a laminator to create resources you can use again and again!)
- Show them what you want if your child has difficulties with understanding, make sure you demonstrate and model activities first, so that your child can copy you.
- Simplify your language use simple words, slow down your speech, emphasise key words, and repeat words again and again.
- Break down instructions “first, this. Now, that.” Children who have difficulties processing language can find long sentences hard to follow. Keep instructions short and simple.
- Model language with choices “do you want a pencil or a pen?” emphasise key words to help your child learn.
- Use fun props children with fleeting attention need highly motivating activities to help them focus and engage. Use fun props that engage the senses to help your child learn to focus for longer.
- Praise behaviours you do want children with SLCN can often get frustrated, which can result in difficult behaviours. Praise your child whenever you see them doing something you do want “well done for waiting!”, “good listening!” etc.
- Consider using signs Makaton is often used to support children with learning or communication difficulties, as it designed to aid spoken language. Try learning signs for some key words, which you can use to support your child’s understanding or expressive language.
About Fiona Roberts
Fiona has worked with children with speech and language difficulties and their families for over 15 years, in various education and support roles. In 2012, Fiona received an award from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) as recognition for providing ‘exceptional service’ to support children and families across Central and West London communities.
You can reach Fiona at: www.facebook.com/minimeyogawestlondon