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Speech Language and Communication Needs - information and support

What are Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)?

Speech is the ability to clearly and accurately make sounds such as “B”, “W”, “sh”. 

Language is understanding and using words. Putting them together to make meaningful sentences and larger “chunks” of language.

Communication is the use of language for social interactions between people. This includes non-verbal communication such as facial gestures and body language.

Speech language and communication are important to everything we do including:

  • making our own needs known
  • expressing our likes and dislikes
  • interacting with others
  • building relationships

This is particularly true when children are at school and:

  • learning to read
  • learning more generally in school
  • taking part in social activities
  • making friends
  • learning and understanding emotions and feelings

Page last modified 6/01/22

When should parents and professionals start to be concerned?

7% of five year old children starting school in England have significant difficulties with speech and language. The vocabulary of a 5 year old is an accurate indicator of their GCSE achievement. As many as two thirds of older children with behaviour problems can have underlying SLCN.

SLCN (speech, language and communication needs) are often called a hidden difficulty. This is because children with SLCN may look the same as other children but be struggling with unidentified difficulties. It is important to address these difficulties and needs.

Further investigations should be considered where children:

  • aren’t talking as much as other children of the same age
  • are seen to be struggling to learn to read
  • are showing challenging behaviour
  • are becoming isolated
  • are having difficulty learning
  • are having difficulty socialising with others

When it is being described as a need SLCN can fall into different categories.

It may be described as a Main Need where the difficulty exists without any other identified developmental or social cause.

It may be described as a Secondary need where difficulties exist with an identified cause. This may be a learning, sensory or physical difficulty, such as a hearing loss.

Where can parents get information and advice to help them support their child?

Parents are usually the first to notice something might be happening because parents know their children best.

Seeking help and advice and following it at home greatly improves the outcomes for children with SLCN.

Children and young people who are supported by their parents make the most progress.

Speaking with other parents who may be experiencing similar difficulties and finding out what helped or helps them is always a good idea.

Support is available in Hackney from the Integrated Speech and Language Therapy Service.


Where do we work?

Children under 5 can access our services in:

  • Children's Centres
  • their Nurseries
  • their home
  • clinics at e.g. Hackney Ark.

Children aged 5 and over can access our services in:

  • their Primary and or Secondary School
  • College
  • Specialist School
  • PRU (Pupil Referral Unit)
  • one of Hackney's Language Resourced Schools.

Who do we see?

We see children with:

  • speech delay or speech disorder
  • language delay of disorder
  • selective mutism
  • Developmental Language Disorder
  • autism
  • stammering
  • voice difficulties
  • eating and drinking difficulties

Hackney's Integrated Speech and Language Service

Hackney’s Speech and Language Service is split into three teams across the borough.

  • North, John Scott Health Centre. Phone 020 7683 4751
  • Central, Hackney Education. Phone 020 8820 7619
  • South, Hackney Community College. Phone 020 783 4642

If you have questions or concerns you are welcome to get in touch with the service to discuss them with a therapist. 

The Speech and Language Therapy service have an excellent website, Get Hackney Talking, with useful information, tips and resources for parents and professionals. 

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