Language and literacy are used as the main mediums to teach subjects in the National Curriculum. Vocabulary and concept growth continues during the years children are in school. Reading and writing are taught and, as students get older, the understanding and use of language becomes more complex.
Communication skills are at the heart of the education experience. Thus children with early speech, language and communication difficulties are at increased risk for academic and literacy problems in school. Speech and/or language therapy may continue throughout a student’s school years either in the form of direct therapy or on a consultant basis. However speech and language therapy resources are severely limited and there is limited speech and language therapy provision in secondary schools.
Older children with language difficulties (secondary school) are less likely to have automatic (effortless) speech/language and reading and writing skills. For example, they may sound out words to spell them instead of trying to memorize spellings, learn root words, or learn prefixes and suffixes. These older children may be unable to follow lengthy stories or textbook passages or compose written reports or essays appropriate to age level.
Also, if earlier difficulties have gone unnoticed or untreated, it is likely that these older children will be frustrated with learning and manifest with behaviour problems (for example: acting out, skipping school, etc.). These emotions coupled with difficulties using/understanding language may make social interaction with peers, a highly valued part of adolescent life, even more difficult.
Social interaction with peers may be difficult for children with language delays or disorders. For example, they may have difficulty contributing relevant statements in conversation, understanding/making jokes, following the pace of conversation, etc. Poor achievement in school may further isolate these children from their peers (i.e. teasing, exclusion from social/academic groups, etc.). Children with language delays may express frustration by acting out (i.e. becoming a bully, class clown, etc.).