Supporting students with communication needs

The Communication Service employs speech-language therapists who support children with communication needs.

Who the support is for

The support focuses on building the capability of family/whānau and teachers to support the child’s ability to communicate. Speech language therapists work with both children in the early years and when children are at school.

Children may benefit from support where, the family/whānau or teachers are concerned that:

  • the child’s talking is very hard to understand 
  • the child’s language skills are well below the levels expected for their age or the child’s language is very unusual, for example, they find it hard to follow verbal instructions, or they can talk only in short sentences or their word order in sentences is mixed up
  • if the child speaks more than one language, difficulties are reported across all the languages they speak
  • the child has difficulty developing social skills, for example, they find it hard to have a conversation with other children and adults who they know well
  • the child has a stutter, for example, they repeat words or parts of words or get stuck on words
  • the child has a problem with their voice that makes it hard for them to talk, for example, they might have an extremely husky voice or keep losing their voice
  • the child has difficulty participating in conversations in early learning or at school, such as negotiation in group work, working collaboratively or demonstrating their learning
  • the family/whānau or teachers are not sure about the best ways to support the child’s achievement and wellbeing

Sometimes, families/whānau or teachers may be concerned that the child has communication difficulties in more than one of these areas.

The support that’s available

Speech-language therapists are able to support families/whānau and teachers of children who are having difficulties developing skills in talking, listening and understanding.

If a child has communication needs, the speech-language therapist will talk with the child’s family/whānau and teachers about the best ways to support the child. The plan could include:

  • cultural support for the child, whānau, teacher and speech-language therapist
  • ideas and strategies for the teachers to support the child in school or kura
  • ideas and strategies for the family/whānau to support the child at home
  • advice and guidance for everyone supporting the child on how things are going and whether the plan is on track.

Sometimes, the speech-language therapist will support the child to develop specific skills through modelling to the family/whānau and teachers first.

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