Being able to communicate is an essential part of everyday life but it is something that many of us take for granted. When a person has a communication disability, it can have an impact on all areas of their life and everyday activities can become a real challenge.

Any aspect of speech and language development can be delayed or disrupted. This can mean that a child needs help to communicate in an effective way - they have communication support needs.

Children who have communication support needs may have difficulties with one or more aspects of communication. Here are some examples:

  • Difficulty in producing speech sounds clearly
  • Difficulty in putting their ideas into words
  • Difficulty in making their needs known
  • Difficulty in understanding what another person is saying to them

Sometimes there may be an obvious cause that contributes to the communication difficulties that a child is experiencing, for example:

  • A physical cause e.g. being born with a cleft palate
  • A sensory cause e.g. having a hearing impairment
  • A medical cause e.g. head injury following an accident
  • Some children have communication support needs associated with other conditions e.g. Downs Syndrome or autism spectrum disorder

Sometimes there is no obvious cause or condition for the communication difficulties that the child is experiencing. Regardless of the cause, it is extremely rare for a child's language level to be more advanced than his/her overall level of ability.


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