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Children's speech, language and communication support

How children are best supported

Most children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are best supported in their school or early years setting. They are best supported by early years staff or teachers on a day-to-day basis.

The East Coast Community Health (ECCH) Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) team can provide:

  • Advice
  • Interventions
  • Training

to develop staff skills, understanding and knowledge in supporting children.

The development of a child’s speech, language and communication needs can be supported by:

  • ‘Quality First Teaching’, which is appropriate use of teacher questioning, modelling and explaining. Emphasis is on learning through communication, with regular opportunities for children to talk in groups and individually
  • Good Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision within early years and school settings

Levels of support

Children need different levels of support depending on:

  • The difficulties they have
  • How severe they are

Speech and language therapy is not needed by all children with SLCN. 

When appropriate, Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) will see children:

What is speech and language therapy?

Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) covers a broad range of work. Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) assess and support people with speech and language difficulties, to help them to communicate better. They also work with people who have eating and swallowing problems. 

SLTs work with people of all ages, from babies through to adulthood. They can work in a clinic or hospital, children’s centre, early years setting or in a school.

When a child’s speech, language and communication skills are not developing as expected

SaLT aims to assess and improve the child’s:

  • Attention and listening skills
  • Understanding of language
  • Ability to put sentences together
  • Speech
  • Conversation and social skills

Types of speech and language therapist support

As children and young people with SLCN all have different types of difficulties, they need different types of support. 

A speech and language therapist (SLT) might:

  • Work directly with children or young people individually or in groups
  • Work through other people who see the child or young person regularly. This could be teachers, teaching assistants or early years staff. They will be trained by the SLT to reinforce the speech and language therapy
  • Support parent/carers to adapt their communication around the child. This will enable the child to practice their skills every day, so they can get the most from their therapy

Everyone working together to encourage the child, will often give the best results.

ECCH SLT's will always provide individual, person-centred advice. It is highly likely that the advice your child receives will be different from the advice given for another child. Every assessment and plan is individually made to meet a child’s needs.

Sometimes the SLT might decide that the child doesn’t need any support from the ECCH SaLT team. If this happens, you will be signposted to other forms of support that might help.

More information about what a SLT does

The aim of speech and language therapy 

The primary aim of the ECCH SaLT service is to maximise each child’s ability to communicate. This is when their skills have not developed as well as expected.

The SaLT service might include:

  • Focused activities to develop skills, e.g. developing the production of speech sounds
  • Introducing communication strategies to support their current skills, e.g. signing
  • Advice regarding different communication systems, e.g. high tech communication aids
  • Advising the parents/carers and professionals around the child to encourage them to regularly practice their skills

Following an assessment of a SLCN, two approaches may be recommended:

  • Indirect Speech and Language (SaLT) support
  • Direct Speech and Language (SaLT) support

Indirect speech and language therapy

Focused activities, e.g. developing the production of speech sounds, may be given to children who need extra support in school. This is so they can catch up with speech, language and communication skills. Most children with needs will be successfully supported in a mainstream early years setting or school.

The support is usually given by experienced teaching assistants. This is with guidance from the teacher, a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) or a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT).

Children might work in small groups to follow a programme or have individual support.

Direct speech and language therapy

Children with more complex, enduring or severe SLCN, require a direct level of support and interventions. This should be from a SLT with specialist experience and training. Videos explaining some complex SLCN can be found on our speech and language resources webpage. Support cannot be routinely carried out by early years or school staff. The SLT will work with the child. They will also meet very regularly with teachers and teaching assistants, to advise on how best to support the child on an everyday basis over time.

Contact the ECCH Speech and Language Therapy Service

Single point of contact telephone number: 01493 809977 (Monday - Friday, 7am - 8pm)

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