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Experts call for greater awareness of SLI

25/10/2012 Joanna
Two leading experts have called for more focus on helping children with specific language impairment (SLI).

Dorothy Bishop, a professor of neuropsychology at the University of Oxford, and Becky Clark, a speech and language therapist, told the Guardian that "these children have been ignored for too long".

While conditions such as dyslexia and autism garner much of the attention as far as learning difficulties are concerned, the pair feel that many people are ignorant when it comes to SLI.

For children with SLI, their language development is out of step with their abilities in other areas, such as music and sport.

The charity I Can says children with SLI may have difficulty expressing themselves, sound muddled and struggle to remember words. Its figures show that around seven per cent of five-year-olds have SLI and it is more common among boys than girls.

Unfortunately, while SLI is hard to diagnose, the effect it can have on the child may be profound - resulting in behavioural problems, frustration, low self-esteem, communication difficulties and, ultimately, underachievement.

To tackle this oft-neglected issue, the duo have launched Ralli: Raising Awareness of Language Learning Impairments.

This could well prove to be an invaluable resource for those in special needs teacher roles, as the campaign will include YouTube videos to help people spot language difficulties in the classroom and better support children with SLI.

Pupils will also offer their own perspective on SLI and how teachers can help them. In one of the videos featured on the website, a student describes how he initially felt like an "outcast" until he spoke up and was given the assistance he needed.

"We also see it as crucial that there is recognition that children with SLI often have talents that can be fostered and have strengths that can assist their learning," Ms Bishop and Ms Clark added.

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801476004-ADNFCR
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