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The earlier any problems with a child’s speech are picked up the better as the relevant support can be put into place. It is therefore vital for all those working with children to appreciate the importance of speech, language and communication. Make sure they are aware of how they can support the development of speech, language and communications in all children. Are able to identify children with difficulties and know where to get them additional support. Know how to work with specialists such as speech therapists. It’s not always easy to tell if a child has a speech, language and communication need, it can depend on several things, and for example what age the child is and what type of difficulties they may have. Usually a parent or a family member will be the first person to realise the child has a difficulty, sometimes it can be staff at a nursery or school who notice there is a problem. Testing can begin right from birth as many babies now have a new-born hearing test. Problems with hearing can lead to speech difficulties. If a parent has concerns about their child’s speech, language and communication development, they can seek advice from their health visitor, G.P. school nurse or teacher. Any of these should be able to support the parent in making a referral to a speech and language therapist if necessary. Speech and language therapists have specialist skills and knowledge about the development of speech and language. They are trained to assess the child’s speech and language development, notice whether there are any difficulties, make a diagnosis and develop an individual treatment plan to the child’s needs and work alongside the parent to implement the plan.


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