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In this section you will find:

  • information about the different areas of speech, language and communication
  • suggestions of how to help your child at home.

Speech, Language and Communication skills are vital for children to reach their full potential in life. Families are most important in helping children to develop these skills which affect so many areas of life –

  • Making friends
  • Learning
  • Joining in at home and at school
  • Making choices and dealing with change

Children start developing communication skills from birth.

It is important to remember that children develop speech, language and communication skills at different rates.

Some develop quickly, while others may take longer.

What do children need to develop communication?


Children learn language through interacting with others. See our handout for top tips to support your child’s language development.

The model shows many of the different areas of speech and language development in children. Each of these areas contribute to successful communication and children learn these skills at different paces. Some children may have difficulties with one or more area. The development of these skills can be supported with strategies to help children to reach their full potential.

Please use the drop down menu under the families tab to learn more about the different areas of communication.


Attention & Listening  – children need to be able to hear sounds in their environment and to be able to listen and pay attention to language. Children’s attention and listening support language to develop. Attention is a skill which develops from birth and is the ability to look and listen to what other people are saying or doing.

For example: a child is able to look at a cup at the same time as an adult and hears the word “cup”.

Play – young children learn early communication skills through play. They need lots of opportunities to play. Play, particularly symbolic play, is an important step in language development. For example, by understanding that the toy cup represents the real cup, a child starts to understand that words represent things, people, events etc.

For example: through play the child realises that the toy cup in the tea set is “symbolic” of the real cup in mummy’s kitchen even though they may look different.

Understanding Language – (receptive language) children learn to understand words, sentences and conversations. With a solid foundation of listening, attention and play skills children can develop an understanding of language. Sometimes young children can understand a lot more than they can say.

For example: the child understands that the sounds they hear from the adult e.g. “cup” relate to the object that they can see.

Talking – (expressive language) children learn how to talk, using words and then sentences to share their message and join in conversations. They start with single words and move on to join two words together then three, four etc.

For example: the child has a go at saying “cup” when they see or want the cup. However, sometimes children may copy words without understanding the meaning.

Speech Sounds – children develop their use of different speech sounds, so they can be understood by others. Some children continue to develop speech sounds up until the age of 7 years.

For example: they may say “tup” for ‘cup’ to start with.

Social Communication – children need to learn how to interact socially with others e.g. greeting, using gestures such as waving, involving others in their play and with taking turns. They then begin to use language socially e.g. to have back and forth conversations and to ask questions. This helps them to make friends.

If your child is accessing our service please refer to their therapy plan which will identify areas of the website relevant to your child.