Monday, 12 March 2012

Listening to children and young people with SLCN by Wendy Lee, Professional Director

It is fascinating talking to children and really listening to what they have to say. As a speech and language therapist, working with children with SLCN, you have to listen – all the time; to find out what makes children tick, the right way to approach support, to make sure it fits with their lives, their interests, their priorities...the list is endless.

Most importantly, children with SLCN often have lots to say – not necessarily about their impairment, but about themselves, their teachers, their lives, their friends, their choices. Listening to and valuing their views has huge implications for children’s confidence and attitude to learning.

Recently, I have been very lucky to be involved in a project, set up by Professors Sue Roulstone and Sharynne McLeod. Their vision was to write a book on listening to children with SLCN. They gathered together a group people from different fields, different sectors and with different roles and perspectives, but all with a common bond. We were all interested in children and young people, some were focused on speech, language and communication needs and all were interested in best ways to hear children’s views. We were given an opportunity to share elements of our work; with fascinating insight from the academic’s perspective across different theoretical fields, the practical perspective of working with children with SLCN, thoughts from Afasic’s Linda Lascelles about the parent perspective and from the ever inspiring Abigail Beverly – an artist and textile designer who also has SLCN.

Sue and Sharynne saw that a book to capture this myriad of perspectives through a common goal would be a useful addition to information for people working with children with SLCN. We were asked whether we were able and willing to contribute, with the idea that the book would aim to have both theoretical and academic perspectives alongside practical examples. We were all asked to write our elements of the book, with Sue and Sharynne pulling together into one coherent text - an unenviable task with so many contributors.

We know listening to children with SLCN can create challenges for adults – it can be hard to properly listen to them, to make sure their choices are real choices, to ensure they understand and can be understood. We know there are inherent difficulties in enabling children with SLCN to participate and contribute in the same way as their peers and we know from research that communication difficulties are frequently given as the reason why disabled children are not consulted. In fact, some cases the views of children with communication difficulties are often ignored.

The book, recently published, aims to go some way in overcoming these issues and giving anyone working with children with SLCN the insight into why it is so important and what can work....

For more information about the book, visit

To order a copy, visit the publisher’s website