Speech and Communication
What’s on this page?
Why this is a problem for some children
The things we do to help
Links to learn more about speech and communication needs
What does this mean to me?
Speech, language and communication are linked together. We use all three to understand others and be understood by them. If your child has difficulties in this area it may be all three areas; just speech and communication. This means having difficulty pronouncing words, making letter sounds, saying words or knowing how words fit together to make sentences; or just language – meaning understanding speech. Often a Speech and Language Therapist will assess a child to learn their specific, individual needs to help them learn.
Speech clarity and pronunciation
It is important that a child is able to say and pronounce individual letter sounds correctly. As they get better, children will blend these sounds together to make different letter sounds, and then put sounds together to make words.
Many different things can affect a child’s ability to do this. Sometimes physically moving their tongue and mouth to form the correct shapes for each sound is difficult, or hearing loss (affecting how a child thinks a letter sounds and how their own speech sounds) can affect their speech. However it can also be that they simply need help to practice the sounds to master them.
Hearing sounds at the beginning and end of words
When a child’s speech is unclear, it can be difficult for others to understand them. This is frustrating for the child. Having a symbol, object or sign that they can use with their speech, can make their ideas and needs much clearer to others. This helps them feel they are being understood. As speech develops, the need for these visual communication tools may lessen or disappear over time. They can also help in other ways – like understanding a sequence or set of instructions.
Using a picture or a real object related to something being spoken about gives children an extra thing to use to make sense of what is being said. It also gives adults something to reinforce and clarify what a child is trying to say. When a child is younger, using the real objects themselves or a 3D representation (for example a toy car to represent going in a real car) make it easy to link to a word or idea. As they become older and more able to link words, ideas and concepts, more abstract pictures, photos, drawing and symbols can be used.
PECS – Picture Exchange Communication System
The use of PECS may be recommended by Speech and Language Therapists, or Specialist Teachers after an assessment of a child’s needs.
PECS uses simple line drawings on cards to represent key words. This includes actions, objects and feelings. They help children communicate. The cards can be used by children and by the people they are communicating with to help understand each other.
Makaton may be recommended by Speech and Language Therapists or Specialist Teachers after an assessment of a child’s needs.
Makaton uses symbols and signs to reinforce speech. It is often thought of as a simple sign language. Children and the adults working with them gradually learn the symbols and signs for specific words. They include actions, objects and feelings. A child will be able to express themselves and be understood by others. Speech is always used with Makaton signing so that children link the sign and the spoken word. This also encourages children to pronounce the word correctly.
Singing Hands Makaton You Tube Channel – for learning signs, signing songs and stories.
Something Special cBeebies Website – Makaton signing programmes and games for young children with Mr Tumble