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Explaining differences: supporting children to understand speech, language and communication needs

Children can often ask very direct questions about other children.  We've thought of the questions we're most frequently asked by children and the questions practitioners have said they're asked most often:

What may be happening?

Children with communication difficulties sometimes find it difficult to play with other children, maybe because they have not yet developed some of the skills that are needed such as turn taking, waiting, or imaginative skills. Or it may be that they struggle with skills such as cooperation, collaboration and differences of opinion or their difficulties with language mean that they don’t understand or can’t participate. It may be they simply get so involved in their own play they don’t notice other children.

You could say something like:

Try to explain that he doesn’t do this on purpose or because he is learning how to share. Perhaps you could try setting up opportunities for other children to demonstrate sharing such as turn taking games? It may help to use a timer for each child’s “go".

You may want to say something like:

What may be happening?

Some children with communication difficulties can struggle to be understood. There are many reasons for this: it could be because they cannot make some sounds, because they can’t put sounds together clearly in sentences, because they struggle to understand what is being said, or they may use an alternative way of communicating.

Conversation starters

This could be something very simple for example:

Positive thinking

What approaches do you have to talking about differences? Using a strengths-based approach to talking about differences - talking about what children are good at and also what they're still learning to do can help to highlight language and communication as a skill. Just like riding a bike or learning to use a paintbrush. You might also talk about what you are good at and what you are still learning, find tricky and/or need help with. For example, using a visual timeline to help you remember what you are doing next!

You may also talk about what children find easy and difficult and that everyone is learning different things in their own time.

Inclusive environments

By creating an inclusive environment that supports all children's communication you are also helping those children who may struggle. This means that there are fewer barriers to children joining in and participating.

How do you explain differences to children? Do you have any suggestions for explaining children's speech, language communication difficulties share them with us on our Facebook page. These books may be useful, and cover all kinds of disabilities.

You may also find the following websites useful:

The Communication Trust
Talking Point
Contact a Family

You can also talk to one of I CAN's speech and language therapists by calling 020 78432544 or email us at

Kathy noon
Where can i get a copy of this its great
19/07/2017 14:31:52

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