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!