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Impact of SLCN

We know that SLCN can cause significant difficulties for children and young people and that these difficulties can be long term.  The following facts may be useful to you when you are talking about the impact of SLCN.

Based on information on prevalence studies and from schools census data, we estimate that around 10% of all children have long term, persistent SLCN.

This 10% is divided into three groups:

  • Evidence shows 7% of children and young people have SLCN as their main or primary difficulty – known as ‘specific language impairment
  • Other children have SLCN as a result of another condition, such as autism, ADHD or hearing impairment.
  • Approximately 1% of these children have the most severe and complex SLCN
  • This means 2 to 3 students in every classroom are struggling to communicate

A further group of children have SLCN associated with social deprivation. These children have poor or limited language and may have the potential to catch up with their peers. In some parts of the UK – particularly in areas of social disadvantage - upwards of 50% of children start school with delayed language.

Most children with social emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) have SLCN for example two thirds of those with conduct disorder had SLCN relating to the social use of language and often their SLCN are undetected. One study showed that in a special school for children and young people with SEBD, less than half of the 74% with language impairments had been detected.

The impact of Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

  • 90% of children with identified SLCN have long term difficulties
  • Difficulties with understanding language are most likely to persist
  • 50-90% of children with persistent communication difficulties go on to have reading difficulties
  • 60-90% of young offenders have communication difficulties
  • Children and young people with undetected SLCN may also be at greater risk of exclusion from school

I CAN's 'Cost the nation' provides more information about the prevalence of SLCN, and the impact on local services. Download it here.

The Bercow Report also contains information about prevalence and impact.

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