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Children face long waits for SLCN assessments

Monday 26th March 2018
Many children are left facing long waits for their speech, language and communication needs to be assessed and addressed, a new review reveals. Image: Jovanmandic via iStock
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Over half of parents who identify that their children may have additional speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have to wait for more than six months for them to be seen by a specialist in this area.

This is one of the findings of a new follow-up review into SLCN provision in the UK, carried out by the charity I CAN in conjunction with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, entitled 'Bercow: 10 Years On'.

More than 600 parents took part in a survey as part of the review, with the results showing that just 12 per cent had their children's SLCN requirements identified by a professional; the majority were left to diagnose problems and try to seek help and support by themselves.

With figures showing that over 1.4 million children and young people in the UK have SLCN, this means that hundreds of thousands of individuals could be at risk of falling behind their peers because they are not able to access the help they need.

In more socially disadvantaged parts of the country, the proportion of children in need of specialist speech and language therapy can rise to as many as 50 per cent.

As a result, it is vital that more provision for this type of care is made available to ensure all young people are able to get the developmental support that they need.

Professor Viv Bennett, chief nurse at Public Health England, explained how the health service will be taking action to try to improve provision in this area in the near future.

"Ensuring every child has the best start in life is a priority for us and improving early identification and help for children with speech, language and communication needs is a core part of this work," she stated.

"Working closely with the Department for Education over the next two years, we will develop an assessment tool to support health visitors identify children that can benefit from help with their progress."

Written by Martin Lambert

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