Intelligible speech depends upon fast and correct movements of the muscles of the mouth. Difficulties with quick and accurate movements of the tongue and lips result in problems with producing speech sounds. To form a word, the plan of movement to form each of the sounds in turn that together make up the word is complicated. A message stating how to articulate it has to be sent from the brain to the mouth and performed very rapidly and accurately to ensure success. To put this word into a sentence requires the production of a much longer sequence of complicated movements. Most of us carry out this sequence of events automatically so we are not really aware of how complicated the process is behind the scenes.

For some however there can be a delay in the message reaching the mouth, the message gets disjointed on its way to the mouth or messages from the brain to the mouth, indicating the desired positioning of the lips and tongue to make the specific sounds, are lost. In this case speech is inevitably affected and the longer the sentence, the more the speech becomes indistinct. It might be that a speaker experiences only a slight delay in the plan of movement reaching the mouth, in which case they are able to execute single words effectively, but have more difficulty when these words appear within a sentence. For some however this disruption in the plan of movement message is far more significant, making it difficult to execute individual sounds. This disruption is called dyspraxia.

If you suspect that your child is having difficulties in their speech development, please contact us and we will put you in touch with a source of professional speech therapist support.

Choosing the right school when your child has leaning difficulties parents
I have had conversations with five families this week regarding choosing the right senior school for children with various learning difficulties from dyslexia to dyspraxia to Asperger’s. They all start their research via school gate tips from helpful friends who are keen to share their views, often fashioned by the parent grapevine and personal experience. However, when your child has learning difficulties, it’s important to consider schools which will best support their individual needs, rather than just short-listing via league tables or brand names.

It’s so important your chosen school has the resources to challenge and stretch your child’s capabilities and interests, as well as offer relevant, experienced support where needed. Consider updating your child’s educational psychologist report. This helps schools to review their needs as part of the application process, as well as giving valuable guidance on how to best support their learning.

When visiting potential schools, be honest. Withholding information regarding difficulties may lead to problems later. Don’t be too concerned if there are other children with similar learning difficulties. Your child will gain in confidence through feeling they are not the only one finding things tricky, rather than perhaps feeling like the odd one out.

Do you warm to the SENCO? This person will become one of your key contacts regarding progress. It’s important you find them approachable, knowledgeable and understanding.

Ask how often your child’s individual education plan will be reviewed and if necessary amended?

Is learning support delivered one-to-one, in small groups or within the classroom? What training do teachers have in supporting children with learning needs within the classroom? Is technology used to support those with difficulties?

Does the school use streaming or setting for classes or are they mixed ability? If your child excels in maths but has difficulties with English, it’s important they will be both challenged and offered additional support, where appropriate.

If your child has difficulty with organisation skills, what systems are in place to assist them to manage their belongings? How much movement is there between classrooms and how easy is it to navigate the school campus?

Will I have opportunities to meet other parents? A supportive parent community with whom you can discuss your worries regarding your child with like-minded parents can be of great value in assisting you to understand your child’s needs better and to have access to support and a listening ear when things appear difficult.