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Support Children’s Speech, language & Communication

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SPEECH
Is the vocalised sounds made by a human of their learned language, to communicate to others. LANGUAGE can be spoken, written or signed with hand communication skills. Each different language uses their own set of intricate rules which one must follow to make or read the appropriate sound and therefore for the words to make sense. The amount of sounds and letter/symbols will vary depending on the language. English has over 40 different phonemes. Language will be learned by listening and or watching the appropriate sign for a word. However in the U.K, the written language is learned phonetically. Children learn to read and write firstly by using the appropriate sound for the letter as opposed to the name of the letter e.g. ‘a’ pronounced as in the word ‘ant’ as opposed to the ‘ay’ sound of the letter ‘A’. Gradually the grammatical rules of the language will be taught for them to understand the written word. COMMUNICATION is how people express what they feel and want and how they can send messages to others. It is the culmination of speech and language and also involves non verbal signals such as body language, gesturing and facial expressions. The use of facial expressions is particularly important to help babies and young children understand the meaning of spoken words. The written word is also used for communication.

SPEECH, LANGUAGE & COMMUNICATION NEEDS – this is a reference to when a child may have difficulties with one or more of the 3 areas above. If they have difficulties in any of the areas, this may limit their ability to express themselves, social skills, convey needs and also their ability to develop amongst other things. It can range from a very simple speech difficulty e.g. unable to pronounce certain letters which may be remedied with Speech & Language therapy sessions to the more extreme. For example, this could be when a child does not like to make eye contact when talking or even like being around other children. This will heavily impact their social skills development and it may be that the child has other difficulties e.g. they may be on the Autistic spectrum.

LEARNING – Speech, language & communication skills support learning. Children will use these skills to convey to others what they have learned through cognitive means i.e. our ability to process and understand the information that they have gathered. Adults will use speech and language skills with children to explain ‘what’ something is or ‘why’ something is happening and this can be enhanced with the use of expression, gesturing and demonstration. A child may then repeat the words later in the appropriate setting to show they understand the concept. For example they may say “when it snows, it is Wintertime” when they see a winter picture in a book or on a winter holiday or in general conversation.

Speech, language & communication skills support each of the following areas in children’s development: LEARNING
If children have the above skills then they are able to communicate the concepts that they have learned therefore showing to adults their understanding. Although there are other ways of assessing a child’s understanding, the use of speech and language is the easiest and most straight forward form as you can have a discussion with a child using questioning techniques either open or closed questions to explore a concept. EMOTIONAL

Children are able to control their emotions better once they have developed their speech and language skills as they are then able to explain how they are feeling and talk it through in simple terms with an adult. Before the language skills have developed, young children can be prone to tantrums and or angry aggressive behaviour due to their frustrations. Their frustrations are displayed physically instead of verbally. BEHAVIOUR

As above, children are able to control their emotions better once speech and language has been mastered and therefore this has a positive effect on their behaviour. They are able to internally consider the consequences of their actions e.g. tantrums or aggressive behaviour and also discuss their feelings/actions with an adult. SOCIAL

With the use and ability of mastering speech, language & communication skills this then leads onto increasing children’s social development. As they are able to control their emotions better, their behaviour improves and they will then be able to recognise these emotions in others and therefore react appropriately. Children will not only use the use of language for this but be able to read and understand others facial expressions and body language to change their behaviour to suit the situation and moral/social code. Also as children get older they will be more involved in collaborative play in two’s or in groups as opposed to parallel play. They will need their speech and language skills to be involved in a group situation also to communicate how to play a game or put together an arts and crafts project for example.

Speech, language & communication difficulties have an impact on the overall development of children Short term effects are: The child will find it hard to make themselves understood. This in turn means they may have difficulty in making friends. They will also have difficulties in their ability to concentrate, learning and then applying new information to new situations. They can become withdrawn and frustrated . Longer term effects: When a child becomes withdrawn and frustrated this leads to low levels of confidence and self esteem which can then lead onto anger and anti-social behaviour in the future. They will not be able to reach their potential and independence. This can also have an economic impact in the future. Some people with these difficulties can have trouble maintaining relationships and become withdrawn and isolated.

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