Speech, language and communication are all important to a child’s overall development. They are used to interact with others, explore the environment, make sense of everyday experiences, access information and understand concepts, organise thoughts and make ideas and to express your feeling and understand the feelings of others. Speech is vocalised language. Usually this is learnt before leaning to write. We use speech to communicate and express ideas, thoughts and feelings through vocalised sound.

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With speech, symbols are not written or signed they are spoken as sounds. Gestures and signing are forms of speech for individuals who may have a disability or impairment. English has over 40 different sounds/phonemes but the number of sounds children need to learn depends on their chosen language. Language can be very specific. It is a set of symbols that are written, spoken or signed that enable us to communicate and convey meanings to others and allows us to understand what others are saying to us.

Language includes a complex set of rules. In the English language, words can be added together to make phrases and sentences and some words can be added to and changed. For example, adding an‘s’ to show more than one of something or adding ‘ed’ to show something happened in the past. Linguists suggest that once users understand, use and have mastered the rules they will be able to convey anything they wish to.

At first children cannot use the rules, toddlers begin by pointing at objects and saying just one word, but after a while they learn how to construct sentences. Communication is the process of conveying a message or meaning to establish a shared understanding to others. There are several ways in which we communicate all of which involve all our senses. For example, spoken, written, pictures, sounds, symbols. We also use non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, gestures and body language.

Being able to listen to the person Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs have difficulties in communicating with others; it may be that they cannot express themselves

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effectively or they may have difficulties in understanding what is being said to them. On the other hand those who support them may not understand their way of communicating. Children and young people may have difficulties across one or many of the different elements of speech, language and communication resulting in a communication breakdown this may be minor and temporary or it may be complex and long term.

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