I CAN, the children’s communication charity, is launching a major independent review of the provision of children’s speech, language and communication needs .
The study, entitled Bercow – Ten Years On and carried out with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, will be published in 2018, ten years after a ground-breaking report by Speaker John Bercow.
Since the Bercow Report, I CAN is concerned that far too little has been done by governmnets to support children with language difficulties and there is insufficient recognition of how many children are affected.
Over 7.5% of children have a language impairment, according to a 2016 study by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. This compares with 1% affected by autism and 2% affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
I CAN's Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier, is determined to make sure that meeting the needs of children with speech, language and communication difficulties will be a high priority for the new government.
“‘It’s an outrage that in some areas of disadvantage over 50% of children start school with delayed language,” said Reitemeier.
“We know that language is the absolute fundamental life skill that all children need to be independent, to build relationships and to gain employment. Is it imperative for our young people and for our country that we act now.”
A review panel will be chaired by Jean Gross CBE, the former Communication Champion for Children, and will include leading experts.
Children with language difficulties are likely to have problems with reading, learning in school, socialising, making friends, and understanding and controlling emotions.
Without the right support at the right time, a child’s life chances can be significantly hampered, says I CAN. Many children excluded from school, in care or involved in criminal activity have language and communication difficulties.
“Currently, we are witnessing cuts to Children's Services in many parts of the UK including speech and language therapy, and waiting times for specialist interventions are becoming longer.”