The Afasic Helpline team have been rather disturbed to hear recently that  a number of language units and bases around the country apparently have empty places.  In Afasic’s experience, few mainstream schools are able to understand or meet the needs of children with severe speech and language difficulties and, ever since the charity was founded, we have campaigned hard for specialist resources to be set up for them. Some local authorities, I’m glad to say, do share our point of view. Only just this term, for example, a new secondary provision has opened in Croydon, in south London.

But clearly, in other parts of the country, the situation is very different. It’s not clear why. Are LAs just not telling parents about units? Or is nobody explaining to parents how disabling speech and language difficulties can be? Or is it a bit of both? One thing, though is clear. In these cash-strapped times, local authorities will not be willing to keep half empty units open indefinitely. In fact we have only just heard of proposals in one authority to close all their units. So the message to parents is obvious: Use your units or lose them!

3 comments on “Use them, Or lose them!

  1. We visited and considered a language unit for our daughter who has SLI and a Statement of SEN. We decided against using the unit because we were not fully happy with the quality of the provision and the children in the unit had a range of learning difficulties even though it was supposed to be for children with speech and language difficulties only. We have since moved house and a NHS speech and language therapist advised us that the local language unit would not be suitable for our daughter. Her LSA did however visit the unit to observe teaching and support methods. We also feel that there are inclusion benefits to mainstream schooling particularly as in the unit we visited there were no other children our daughter’s age and we feel that it is very important that she socialises as much as possible with her peers. There are challenges with having her in a mainstream setting and we did and would still seriously consider a language unit, but it has to be good quality provision with good opportunities for inclusion with her peers in the mainstream school in which the unit is based, and it appears that units may vary. For us there is also the issue of the quality of the school in which the unit is based.

  2. I had to comment to explain why our Daughter has not had the option of a speech and language unit.
    Our daughter has severe verbal dyspraxia and is in a mainstream school. Our first application for a statement was refused as they believed once she started school she would catch up. This was going against all the other professionals I had come seen. She is seen regularly at the Nuffield hearing and speech centre in London. Which involves missing a whole day of school every two weeks and a round trip of about 5 hours. We live on the south coast!
    We are in the process again of hoping to gain a statement but have just relieved a letter to say the panel were undecided and require more information. She is now just 5 years old and we first applied when she was 3 years old. She will be going into year one in September and we will still not have and answer if the application has been sussessful.
    To conclude the reason she is not in a unit is very simply without the statement we are denied this option. Before she at reception we viewed a unit we liked and they had space for three children but we received a letter saying they had decided to use the wait and see approach!
    Not at all useful for us just a money saving approach is what it feels like to me.

    • Do remember that if your request for statutory assessment is turned down, you have a right of appeal and should use it. I’m afraid that parents often need to fight all the way on behalf of their children.

      Don’t forget you can contact the Afasic Parents’ Helpline for further information about accessing help for children with speech and language difficulties.

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