Supporting students with communication needs

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

Who the support is for

The support focuses on students between 5 and 8 years of age who have high communication needs as well as their families/ whānau and teachers.

To get support, the family/whānau or teachers may be 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
  • 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.

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 trained to support families/whānau and teachers of children who are having difficulties developing skills in talking, listening and understanding.

If a child has high communication needs, the speech-language therapist will talk with the child’s family/whānau and teachers to develop a plan. The plan will 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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