Children's communication charity I CAN has warned parents that special educational needs (SEN) such as speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) often go undetected and advised them to seek resources to better understand, and, in turn, more quickly identify them.
This call follows the Department for Education report, published in May, Support and Aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability - progress and next steps report, which found that children are being over-diagnosed as having SEN. However, I CAN warns that needs such as SLCN often goes undetected, and has expressed concerns that SEN may be overlooked in future, despite early identification being crucial to getting children the right support. SLCN is the most common SEN among primary school children. But I CAN says there is a lack of awareness of SLCN, and maintain that, despite the widespread use of the internet, many parents of children with SLCN still struggle to find information about how to get the best support for their child.
Indeed, a 2011 survey to support the national year of communication - known as the Hello campaign - found that 82% of parents felt that more information on how children develop speech, language and communication would be helpful. The internet was cited as the most likely source of information. As reported by former Government communication champion Jean Gross CBE in January, one of the most important factors for children with SLCN is early detection, so children can be supported in different ways to benefit them later in their education and social development.
In response, I CAN's Meath School in Surrey, a primary school for children with severe and complex SLCN and Asperger syndrome, has launched a new website, www.meathschool.org.uk, to showcase the school's holistic approach to primary years SLCN education - and help signpost parents to resources if they are concerned about their children's speech and language development.
Janet Dunn OBE, headteacher at Meath School, said: "It is vital that children with SLCN or any other special needs are not simply left falling by the wayside. Despite the report's focus on over identification, too often, children with SLCN are 'invisible' or their needs may labelled wrongly as for example, behavioural or severe learning difficulties and are offered the wrong type of support. "SLCN must be identified and supported as early as possible to help children's educational, social and personal development. However, many parents still don't have all the facts about speech and language difficulties. "Too often, information about SLCN is hard to find and chanced upon. It is vital that we have information online about our comprehensive approach to SLCN education and our many success stories."
For more information go to: http://www.meathschool.org.uk/