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A difficulty that arises as a result of an illness, accident or similar incident that happens after birth.

Asperger's Syndrome

An autistic spectrum disorder characterised by difficulties with social interaction, social communication and inflexible thought patterns in an otherwise intelligent and able child. 

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autistic spectrum disorders are characterised by difficulties interacting and communicating. 

The characteristics of autism can be described as the 'triad of impairment':

  • Socialisation - poor social skills;
  • Communication - difficulties with speech language and communication;
  • Imagination - rigid thought and resistance to change.

The commonly used terms 'autism' and 'asperger's syndrome' are autistic spectrum disorders.

Delayed Speech and/or Language

A child with delayed speech and language develops speech and language following the normal pattern, but at a slower rate or later than usual. He or she uses language in the way that a younger child would. Note the term is not 'speech/language delay'.


Something that is present from birth, and which becomes more obvious as the child grows and matures.

Developmental Language Disorder

Is a term that is used to describe difficulties with learning and using language which will be long term, but that are not associated with other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, or autistic spectrum disorders.  In the past DLD was known as specific language impairment (SLI) but the name has changed so that it better reflects the types of difficulties children have.

DLD and X

Where there are conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD and frequently there are language problems alongside, but are not an integral part of it - and the causal relationship is unclear.


A disorder that affects the co-ordination of movement. This can affect co-ordination of the speech organs (oral dyspraxia) or other actions e.g. eating, dressing or writing.

Expressive Difficulties 

Children with expressive difficulties find it problematic to convey their thoughts through the use of language. For example a child might use the word 'table' instead of 'chair' while fully understanding the difference between the two, or use incorrect grammar such as 'I can't want play'. 

Glue Ear 

Glue ear or 'otitis media with effusion', produces thick glue like fluid in the middle ear cavity. This may result in a fluctuating or chronic conductive hearing loss which can have an impact on speech and language development. 

Phonological Difficulties

A child with phonological difficulties finds it problematic to select and use the correct sounds necessary for speech. 

Pragmatic Difficulties

Difficulties in using language. A child with pragmatic difficulties may have difficulty understanding other people's language and behaviour, and may have problems using appropriate language for the setting. 

Receptive Difficulties

A child with receptive difficulties has problems understanding spoken language.

Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

SLCN is a broad, overarching term indicating a child has needs. In teh UK this is useful as it ties in with the terminology used in the SEDN Code of Practice.

Speech and Language Disorder

Any disorder which affects a child's development of speech or language skills in relation to the age appropriate developmental pattern. For a child with speech and language disorder, progress of speech and language does not follow the normal patterns of development, with a significant impact on everyday social interactions and education progress.


Speech and Language Disorder associated with X

The speech and/or language disorder occurs as part of a more complex pattern of impairments.


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