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SLCN is the largest area of special educational need for primary-age pupils.

Within the SEND code of practice, Communication and Interaction is defined as follows:

Paragraph 6.29 ‘Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them, or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.’

SLCN is the largest area of special educational need for primary-age pupils. Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a significant and persistent difficultly with understanding and/or using language which impacts on educational attainment, social relationships and self-esteem and wellbeing.
It affects about 7% of the population, the equivalent of two children in every mainstream class. A diagnosis of DLD is not related to a student’s cognitive ability (with the exception of severe learning difficulties), and approximately two thirds of students with DLD are cognitively average or above. DLD commonly co-occurs with ADHD and dyslexia.

As well as pupils with DLD, SLCN is often part of the profile of need for those with other identified SEN including autism, hearing impairment and Down’s Syndrome. Including these pupils, SLCN affects around 10% of the population.

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