What is SLCN?

What is SLCNSome children find it hard to talk and/or understand what people say to them. SLCN is the term most commonly used to describe these difficulties. It stands for Speech, Language and Communication Needs. You might also occasionally hear the term SLCD, meaning Speech, Language and Communication Difficulties.

You can read more about SLCN on our Key points about SLCN page.

Skills for language development

The ability to speak and understand language requires a number of different skills. Children with SLCN might have a difficulty with just one skill, or with several. For example, some children might:

    • Find it hard to make the mouth and tongue movements necessary to form clear sounds: ‘b’, ‘k’ etc.
    • Have weak attention and listening skills. Young children learning to talk need to concentrate much harder than adults in order to understand what other people are saying – rather like we do when learning a foreign language
    • Not understand what language is for, so often use or respond to it inappropriately –sometimes ignoring you when you speak to them, at other times saying something completely unrelated
    • Find it hard to recognise the difference between certain sounds or words and so struggle to make sense of what they hear – confusing ‘look’ and ‘like’ for example

Further information

For more information about specific terms about speech and language difficulties:
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  • Have a poor memory for what they hear, making it hard to learn new words or follow instructions

Some speech and language therapists and other professionals use a range of specific terms to describe these different types of difficulty.