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Specific language impairment (SLI) is a type of speech, language and communication need. Children with SLI are usually as able and healthy as other children in all ways, with one exception; they have enormous difficulty talking and understanding language.

They may:

  • have difficulty saying what they want to, even though they have ideas
  • talk in sentences but be difficult to understand
  • sound muddled, it can be difficult to follow what they are saying
  • find it difficult to understand words and long instructions
  • have difficulty remembering the words they want to say
  • find it hard to join in and follow what is going on in the playground

SLI is a very broad category, with some children having mild problems that are short-lived. Others have severe and persistent difficulties with both understanding and talking. SLI is not associated with other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, hearing impairment or autistic spectrum disorders. Children with SLI are often as clever as any other child of their age but they still have difficulties with speech and language, hence the term ‘specific’, as difficulties are specific to this area.

Children with speech language and communication needs do not always get a diagnosis. Some children develop speech later than their peers; others are delayed because they are learning more than one language.

Sometimes these difficulties occur alongside other problems such as learning difficulties, but this is not always the case. Children might be born with these difficulties or encounter them as a result of illness or trauma. Others may have physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy or hearing impairment.

Every child deserves to have the best opportunities in life.

TALK Derby aims to raise awareness of the importance of speech, language and communication development in children and young people, and provides practical support for it.

‌For parents

TALK Derby is all about inspiring and encouraging parents to help their children develop as they should. It’s something that benefits us all – in families, communities, education and work.

TALK Derby provide training sessions for parents with children in our priority wards:

  • Abbey
  • Alvaston
  • Arboretum, Boulton
  • Chaddesden
  • Derwent
  • Normanton
  • Sinfin

Simple, relevant and genuinely two-way conversations with children help to build their understanding and communications skills. This makes them more confident in their ability to express feelings and ideas – broadening the range of words they know, helping them to learn and setting them up for better futures.

There’s a wealth of videos, materials and other guidance which you can access here.

Further information

TALK Derby is funded by the Department for Education until August 2020 as part of the national Opportunity Area programme. It’s supported by Derby City Council, the Derby Opportunity Area and a wide range of other partners.

TALK Derby is for everyone who wants to see our city's children succeed. Show your support by making the TALK Derby pledge today.

The speech and language therapy service is provided by Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust. It covers Derby City and Derbyshire County for Adults. It cover Derby City and the southern half of Derbyshire County for Children.

Therapists, practitioners, assistants and admin support workers work together to deliver high quality services for adults and children who have:

  • Speech, language and communication difficulties
  • Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)

Who do they work with

They work with children who have

  • Communication difficulties (including difficulties understanding language, using language, using sounds, stammering and social communication)
  • Eating and drinking difficulties.

These communication and/or eating and drinking difficulties may be associated with conditions such as hearing impairment, learning difficulties, physical disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, neurological conditions and cleft lip and palate. 

When do they accept a referral for an initial assessment?

We accept a referral if:

  • The child/young person is aged up to 25.
  • The child lives or attends school in Derby City, Amber Valley, Erewash, South Derbyshire or South Dales.
  • The child’s parent / legal guardian has given consent (under 16) OR the young person has given consent (16 – 25).

This is only the demographic criteria and you they should read the full criteria document for full details of clinical criteria.

Who can refer into the Service?

Anyone can refer but ideally they like it if the referral comes from school/nursery, parent/carer or Health Visitor as they are best placed to describe the child’s needs and impact on education/learning.
Parents and older children/YP can self-refer. They need to ring their local office to do this. Contact numbers for each locality office are on the website. Most referrals must be discussed with a speech and language therapist before submitting a referral form. The full referral process and referral form are on the website.