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This first stage of this project was funded as part of a HEE ICA National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF). The current stage is being funded by the Wellcome Trust through a ‘health advances in under-represented populations and diseases' (HARP) clinical PhD programme.

Why is this important?

Speech and language skills are fundamental to everyday living. An estimated 10% of young people present with Speech, Language and Communication Needs1 (SLCN). Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) is essential in helping these children achieve their potential and reduce the impact of their communication difficulties in day-to-day life. Many children first access SLT in their pre-school years; where considerable improvement in skills, and even remediation of SLCN, can be observed in response to therapy during this time.

Speech (i.e. the production of individual sounds) and language (i.e. learning and using words) difficulties may occur together or in isolation. This research aims to develop an intervention for a subset of pre-school children who have a comorbid presentation of speech and language difficulties. We know from previous research that this group are particularly vulnerable to later difficulties relating to literacy, persistent speech disorder and emotional wellbeing.


1. Law et al (2000) Provision for children's speech and language needs in England and Wales: facilitating communication between education and health services DfES research report 239

About the Research Team

The current stage of this work is being run with support from City, University of London. We are also working in collaboration with the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit (BSLTRU) and Newcastle University. Coproduction and clinical applicability are integral to this work, with both parents and clinicians being actively involved in the development of this intervention.

The lead for this work is Lucy Rodgers, Early Years’ Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, who is based at Brighton General Hospital.

More about childhood speech, language and communication needs

Worried about a child that you know?

Want to know more about Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)?

DLD is a common condition impacting on an estimated two children in a class of 30. It is characterised by difficulties relating to understanding and use of language, where there is no associated condition such as Autism. Find out more on the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder website.

Page last reviewed: 25 March 2024
Next review due: 25 September 2024