SLCN Key Characteristics

The ability to speak and understand language requires a number of different skills. Children with SLCN might have a difficulty with just one skill, or with several. For example, some children might:

  • Find it hard to make the mouth and tongue movements necessary to form clear sounds: ‘b’, ‘k’ etc.
  • Have weak attention and listening skills. Young children learning to talk need to concentrate much harder than adults in order to understand what other people are saying – rather like we do when learning a foreign language
  • Not understand what language is for, so often use or respond to it inappropriately –sometimes ignoring you when you speak to them, at other times saying something completely unrelated
  • Find it hard to recognise the difference between certain sounds or words and so struggle to make sense of what they hear – confusing ‘look’ and ‘like’ for example
  • Have a poor memory for what they hear, making it hard to learn new words or follow instructions

Some speech and language therapists and other professionals use a range of specific terms to describe these different types of difficulty.