What is SLCN?


You might have seen the letters ‘SLCN’ used when referring to your child, or when researching their needs. But what do they actually mean? Find out here.

No parent wants to feel like they’re out of the loop regarding their child. Whether that’s while talking about their needs with their school or looking up issues they might be having with communication. Seeing the letters ‘SLCN’ might be confusing at first, so we’re here to explain them for you.

SLCN stands for “Speech, Language and Communication Needs”. It is a term for a range of different issues that children can experience while growing up. Whether your child has trouble understanding what they’re told, expressing themselves vocally or simply that they’re taking longer than expected to learn how to talk, they would fall under the umbrella of SLCN.

It’s not an individual condition or a diagnosis. At first, you might be told your child has SLCN, but most healthcare professionals will quickly try to narrow this down to one or more specific issues. It’s a bit like describing someone as an athlete; it’s a good catch-all term, but doesn’t tell you whether they’re a sprinter, a football player or a weightlifter.

Speech, language and communication all refer to different issues. Speech refers to the physical act of talking and the sounds we make. If your child has trouble pronouncing words or patterns of words, or speaking in an intelligible manner, they would be seen as having a speech need.

So What is SLCN?

If your child has trouble understanding or using words  in a different way, they might have a different need. So for example, if they struggle to construct sentences and use words properly – saying things like “I runned home” or “I goed to school” – that might fall under a language issue. If their issue is with non-verbal cues like facial expressions, that could be a communication need.

It’s also not unusual for parents to have to deal with. If you find out that your child comes under the umbrella of SLCN, you might worry that they will struggle to get the help they need, and that they’ll be different from everyone else at school.

However, it’s estimated that around ten per cent of children have some kind of persistent or long-term speech, language or communication issue. This means that there will probably be two or three young people with these needs in each class at your child’s school. There will be plenty of support available.

If you would like to find out more about SLCN, contact us to get more help and advice. The Chatterbug team are always happy to answer your questions.





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