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SLI and Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

Children with speech and language difficulties are often described as having speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). This is a general term used to describe any kind of difficulties with speech and language. Children might have SLCN for a whole range of reasons, e.g. associated with a learning difficulty or physical difficulty or because their language is delayed.

SLI fits under this umbrella term, but these children have very specific difficulties with language. They don’t have any underlying syndrome, e.g. Down syndrome; or physical needs, e.g. cleft palate; sensory impairments, e.g. hearing impairment; or general learning difficulties. Sometimes children with other conditions such as dyslexia or autistic spectrum disorder, will have language difficulties. These language difficulties may look similar to the difficulties a child with SLI has but they are actually very different.

When children are very young it can be difficult to be sure which type of problem they have.

The most important thing to remember is that children with SLI have very specific language difficulties which are not caused by another condition,
like dyslexia – we don’t know the cause.

This text has been taken from the SLI Handbook

image of an SLCN umbrella over ASD, SLI, Language delay, Cerebral palsy, Stammer, Down's Syndrome and Learning difficulties
    • The SLI Handbook helps parents to understand this complicated and confusing difficulty, by describing what SLI can look like in children of all ages and how it is different from other forms of speech, language and communication needs.