Understanding Speech, Language and Communication

Did you know that communication is a vital skill that is fundamental to learning, relationships, and life chances but that speech, language and communication needs can often remain hidden?

Key facts:

  • Communication is the central base for social, emotional, and educational development.
  • More than 10% of children and young people have a long-term speech, language, and communication need.
  • Speech, language, and communication needs may show themselves as a young person who is:
    • struggling to read
    • showing poor behaviour
    • having difficulties learning or socialising with others
    • becoming withdrawn and isolated
  • Speech language and communication can mean different things to different people. The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) define speech language and communication needs as difficulties across one or many aspects of communication including:
    • problems with producing speech sounds accurately
    • stammering
    • voice problems, such as hoarseness and loss of voice
    • problems understanding language (making sense of what people say)
    • problems using language (words and sentences)
    • problems interacting with others. For example, difficulties understanding the non-verbal rules of good communication or using language in different ways to question, clarify or describe things

Find out more

Speech and Language UK have produced guides to identify the typical stages of speech and language development from 0-17 years.


Want your parents/carers to understand you better and for them to be able to communicate better with you? Young Devon are offering a safe space for parents/carers to explore the communication needs of 11-25 year old via zoom sessions. The Way WeTtalk online family sessions help parents/carers to discover this. The Way We Talk – Devon Safeguarding Children Partnership (devonscp.org.uk)


The Local Offer has information and advice about where to go and what help is available of you think you may have SLCN, and one minute communication and interaction guides such as Supporting SLCN in primary schools and Supporting SLCN in secondary schools.


Speech and Language UK Talking Point provides information to help the people around you to support the development of your speech, language, and communication skills.


The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists have produced a number of factsheets that are available to download.


The speech and language therapy service at Children and Families Health Devon provide a range of services for children from birth to 18 years and have lots of resources online from information and signposting to toolkits that provide helpful advice and strategies.