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New UK Scheme To Help The Rising Figures Of Toddlers Unable To Talk

By Michelle Duffy     May 10, 2007 in World
The Department of Education is to start a new scheme to help toddlers with poor speech skills as they start school
It has been brought to the attention of the government that around half of the number of children starting school for the first time every September in the UK, enter school with below average speech skills.
The new programme called, Early Talk is designed to help those children who have poor speech so they may not start their education behind everyone else of their age. The scheme will use gestures, symbols and simple sign language normally used by the deaf to encourage children to use sounds instead of pointing at what they want. It would appear that, as a parent myself with a child who had such poor skills when he started school, that the education authority maybe expecting too much from pre-school children as a whole.
Children by the time they are in their fifth year, must, by law in the UK, attend school. It is also by this age that they are required to have mastered a general understanding of basic language skills enough for them to understand teachers and other children in their class.
This requirement may only be grasped by half of these children meaning that too much time and NHS money is being put into individual speech therapy lessons for each child. It would be to a greater advantage if children with such difficulties were grouped together to learn as a part of their school education, rather than picked out for extra sessions in a hospital environment where they feel insecure and uncomfortable.
Clare Geldard, is leading the scheme which has been the brain child from the charity, I CAN. She felt that these rising figures of children having problems in class needed to be addressed. She said,
"We don't know why this is the case and I am sure there are a myriad of reasons. We know that television can be used in a really productive way in terms of watching a piece of television and then having a conversation about it afterwards, but we also know that television doesn't respond well to children. It does not give them the interactivity that children and adults instinctively seek from adults."
Such early communication problems is thought to effect one in ten children across the UK. It is also hoped that the scheme with bring children and parents together to understand that a problem that has been regarded as a rare and individual need, is actually a fact of life which effects many more children that originally thought.
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