For many children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN), just getting through the day can be incredibly challenging.
It can be exhausting to be surrounded by words when you find them so difficult; trying to follow and understand what is being said; getting your voice heard in group discussions or explaining what you’ve learned or what you need.
Life can be challenging when communication is difficult.
All children with SLCN benefit from being around adults who understand the nature of their difficulties, whether that be in the classroom, playground, at home or out and about.
Some children with SLCN need additional support or intervention, in small groups or individually, in and out of the classroom, at home. Some of this work can be complex and intensive, needing support from speech and language therapists or other professionals with specialist expertise.
However, there are small actions we can all take that make life easier for children with SLCN. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting some quick fix “tweaks” we can all do which can make things a little easier for children with SLCN, especially when done consistently over time.
Watch out for the #TweakOfTheWeek and share whatever small changes you’ve made that’s worked for you and the children you work or live with.
To get us started, see below for a small (though surprisingly difficult) tweak the evidence says can make a difference…
There is one very simple thing we can all do to support children with SLCN. It’s free (kind of) and you don’t need lots of expensive training or equipment.
TIME is the thing!
That old age commodity that we never seem to have enough of…but time is so important for children with SLCN.
Children with SLCN need that little bit more time
time to process what has been said
to work out what the words and sentences mean
time to think of an answer
to formulate a response
time to work out which words to use
to organise them in a sentence
time to find the right speech sounds
to check out it makes sense…
and that’s just the start of it…!
But time really helps.
Research tells us that there is an optimum amount of time between asking a question and expecting an answer  . According to the research, this additional time can result in better questions as well as better answers…for all children and the teachers who work with them!
Children with SLCN need this time – and often more. As a speech and language therapist, I realise I am very lucky to be able to give children lots of time to do their thinking. It’s a real privilege to be able to allow a good chunk of thinking time so that children can come up with their good ideas and take the time to explain them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m also guilty of rushing through life, dashing here and there, being very busy, hurrying conversations on because we should be somewhere, seeing someone or doing something…
But when we do slow down the pace, it can be amazing to see the benefit it can have on all children, though most particularly those with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. I’ve had some of the best ever conversations with these children…it just takes a bit of time.
For an example of the types of difficulties children with SLCN can experience, take a look at this video by the Communication Trust. A group of wonderful and brave children with language disorders agreed to share their time and have a chat …