Dear Jacqui, I am so glad that I brought my 7 year old to see you with his speech sound disorder as he wasn’t making the expected progress and you also found that he has a Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Please could you assist us further in giving advice to teachers on managing the SLI in the classroom?

SLI is a hidden disability and not well known. It requires a full assessment by a Speech and Language therapist. SLI may present as: not following instructions, having difficulty understanding spoken and written language, leaving out small grammatical markers or confusing the word order or verb tenses in sentences, not being able to express oneself fully and becoming frustrated, forgetting vocabulary previously taught but doing well in other areas i.e. practical subjects, music and sports. Here are some tips for teachers and any adults working with children with SLI:

  • Sit the child at the front of the class near the teacher and away from background noise.
  • Use short simple sentences with the child.
  • Break the task down into one step at a time.
  • Give the child time to process what is said.
  • Repeat the same sentence if the child does not respond.
  • Whenever possible back up what is said with a picture or something visual.
  • Explain new topic vocabulary with pictures and link words together by mind maps.
  • Develop the child’s social communication skills with a couple of other children in a small group at school or at the Childhood Communication Consultancy practice.
  • Liaise with the Speech and Language therapist regarding the child’s specific language difficulties and individual therapy targets.