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Understanding what is being said

As children develop they learn to process and make sense of what people say to them. They must learn to understand the words that are spoken as well as the rules of grammar used. Some children may have difficulty developing their listening and understanding of what is being said. For example, your child may look confused or blank when you ask them a specific question.

Children having difficulty with their understanding may show this in a variety of ways. Pre-school children may not do as they are asked, echo back what has been said and have poor attention.

School aged children may also just follow part of an instruction or give inappropriate answers. The young person can sometimes seem to be understanding what you are saying to them but is actually relying on the routines, gestures and situation as well as watching the responses of others.


These video’s may give you further ideas to support your child and work on targets set by the Speech and Language Therapist:







Guidance and helpful information

Encouraging communication and language skills from a young age is very important. You can help and support your child’s communication as you do everyday activities and play together.

A few simple ways to support a child’s understanding:

  • Make sure you have their attention first
  • Keep your language simple
  • Give them ‘thinking time’ (up to 10 seconds) when you ask a question
  • Make what you are saying more ‘visual’ (e.g. using gestures, signing and pictures).

Please check out the toolkits to the right for help and advice as to how you can help your child before deciding whether a referral into the service is necessary. These toolkits provide advice on how to spot difficulties your child might be having with talking and using language and give advice on activities you can do at home with your child. You should select the toolkit for the right age group of your child. There are also web links that you may find useful.

If your health or educational professional has made any recommendations about exercises that you can do with your child while you are waiting, it is important that you keep these going.

If you require further guidance and advice you can speak to a Speech and Language Therapist on 0300 247 0090 (Mon – Fri 9-5pm).

How we can help

There are specific programmes and strategies that the SLT team use in collaboration with parents and settings to develop the themes outlined above.

We will provide support to your child to improve their difficulty with language using therapies and a range of proven strategies. We might work directly with your child or with you and your child together.

For children in school, we will work closely with the staff, providing a programme and advice to enable them to support your child’s difficulties in school. Research has shown that outcomes for children with language difficulties in school are improved when goals are embedded in the child’s everyday environment.

How to refer?

Visit the Single Point of Access (SPA) page for information on the referral process.

If you require further guidance and advice you can speak to a Speech and Language Therapist by calling the SPA on 0300 247 0090 (Mon – Fri 9-5pm).

Useful links and resources