2 May 2019

Almost six out of 10 (59%) parents of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs have to fight to get support for their children’s difficulties and more than half have to wait longer than six months to get it, according to an online survey of over 1,000 parents in the UK.

The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of I CAN – the children’s communication charity – and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) – also revealed that even when help did arrive, 55% of parents felt it wasn’t enough for their child.

The stark impact of this on children and young people and their families is clear:

  • Almost half (48%) of parents who said there was a lack of support available for their child, stated this had a negative effect on their child’s education
  • 42% of this group said it had a detrimental effect on their child’s mental health.

Eight out of ten (82%) parents of children without speech, language and communication needs said that if they were worried about their child’s speech and language development, their first port of call for information would be their GP. It is therefore crucial that GPs and the wider workforce are better trained in identifying and responding to children and young people’s speech, language and communication needs.

The findings come on the first anniversary of the Bercow: Ten Years On report on the state of provision for children and young people’s speech, language and communication needs in England – jointly published by I CAN and the RCSLT.

Evidence submitted to the inquiry revealed the extent to which the wider workforce did not have the skills they require to identify children and young people’s speech, language and communication needs and respond appropriately. As a result, many children and young people are not getting the specialist support they need, and when they do often have a long wait to have their needs assessed and supported when they are.

Bob Reitemeier CBE, Chief Executive at I CAN said: “Since we launched the Bercow: Ten Years On report, last year, the government has made inroads to improving the support available to children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. Language development for children under age five is high on the Government’s agenda, but for school-age children, and those with long-term needs, such as developmental language disorder, there has been little change.”

Kamini Gadhok MBE, Chief Executive of the RCSLT, added: “The Government’s ambition to tackle social mobility by supporting early language development is clear. However, around 1.4 million children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties and need help during and well-beyond the early years. The implementation of a cross-Government strategy for children – involving health and social care, education, and justice would enable children and young people to fulfil their potential.”

For further information, please contact:
RCSLT: Josephine Olley, on 0207 378 3013, or email: press@rcslt.org
I Can: Freddie Cocker, on 0207 843 2539 / 07824 446989, or email: fcocker@ican.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

  • To read the Bercow: Ten Years On report and to find out more about the review please visit www.bercow10yearson.com
  • If you would like an embargoed copy of the Bercow: Ten Years On, 1st Anniversary update then please email fcocker@ican.org.uk
  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1014 GB parents. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th – 30th January 2019.  The survey was carried out online.

About I CAN

I CAN is the children’s communication charity. The charity specialises in helping children develop the speech, language and communication skills they need to thrive in a 21st-century world.

Children and young people can fail to reach their potential because communication difficulties are not visible, often mistaken for something else or not noticed at all. I CAN’s mission is that no child should be left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.

For further information on I CAN’s work visit ican.org.uk or talkingpoint.org.uk or follow on Twitter @ICANcharity and Facebook at facebook.com/icantalk.

About the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK, representing over 19,000 members. It facilitates and promotes research into the field of speech and language therapy – the care for individuals with communication, swallowing, eating and drinking difficulties. It promotes better education and training of speech and language therapists and is responsible for setting and maintaining high standards in education, clinical practice and ethical conduct.

For more information on the RCSLT and its Giving Voice campaign visit www.rcslt.org.