In 2014 I (Susie) completed the pilot course of a Level 3 in Speech, Language and Communication. Part of the portfolio was to create a glossary for the key areas. I’m resurfacing it here as I think it’s still a simple capture of fundamental concepts. Here’s what I came up with:
Speech is the verbal means of communicating represented by using the sounds used for talking. Sounds are made my coordinating the movements of tongue and mouth, as well as other part so the body such as the neck and head. Speech consists of articulation (how the sounds are made), voice (use of the vocal folds to make sounds), fluency (rhythm of speech), volume, pitch and intonation.
Language is the expression of human communication through conventionally used signs, sounds, gestures or marks which have meaning for a group of community. Knowledge, beliefs, behaviour and experiences can be transmitted through socially shared rules on ordering signs, sounds, gestures of marks. These rules are based on what words mean, the tense used, word placement in a sentence, words combinations as well as combinations of strings of words.
Communication is the act of sending messages, both written and spoken, from one person to another. There are different types of communication, including verbal (face-to-face, telephone or radio among others); non-verbal (body language and gestures or dress; written (letters, books, the internet etc); and visual, such as graphs, maps or logos. A key part of communication is having understanding of the message conveyed.
Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)
SLCN is used to refer to those people who do not follow the expected pattern of development. Children with SLCN may have difficulty with fluency, forming sounds, putting together words or sentences, or understanding others.
The reasons for SLCN are wide-ranging: children may have another conditions such a autism; a medical or neurological reason such as hearing problems or cerebral palsy; there may be a physical reason such as cleft palate; social reasons (in deprived areas, there is a higher number of children with speech delay) and sometimes no obvious reason, but children do not follow the expected pattern of development. Sometimes SLCN can have long-term or even life-long effects, but in many cases individuals will grow out of the ese communication difficulties and catch up with peers.
Some of the main factors increasing he risk of SLCN have been identified as family history or genetic predisposition, hearing loss, low birthweight or preterm birth as well as birth season (younger classmates are prone), ethnicity, gender, delayed development of motor skills (catching a ball or using a crayon) and socio-economic deprivation.
Where a child is monitored for SLCN, differentiating between these different terms can form the basis of discussion for agreeing the need for an IEP (Individual Education Plan), and can give reassurance for parents that their experience is common, offering a basis for understanding and supporting their child’s development.