Case Studies

The primary and secondary case studies in the key documents below are examples of children and young people who experience difficulties within the 4 key areas of speech, language and communication needs and the possible impact upon learning.

These examples and format may support teachers in understanding and identifying individual children and young people's needs and the difficulties that they may face in accessing the curriculum.

Further examples may be found in the Inclusion Development Programme: SLCN (2011)

Useful links

www.gov.uk

Name: Megan      Age: 8 years     Setting: Mainstream Primary School Y3

Strengths:
• Good at drawing
• Enjoys physical activity but not rules of games
• She enjoys TV and playing on the computer
• Her speech is clear even to the unfamiliar listener
• Follows visual prompts from peers
• Can decode written words

 Areas of Need
• Does not follow spoken instructions
• Difficulty sequencing stories and numbers
• Easily confused
• Is aware of difficulty
• Poor attention and listening skills
• Reading comprehension is weak

Impact on Learning:
• Limited experience of active involvement in groups
• Unable to keep up with classroom tasks
• Limited ability to understand narrative - both orally and written
• All areas of the curriculum affected


Impact on social development:
• Slow to join in conversations and take part in class discussion

Emotional behaviour
• Low self-esteem and lack of confidence

Organisational
• Needs additional prompts - visual and practical demonstration

Classroom Strategies
• Provide visual support - visual time tables, task plans, pictures etc.
• Always get attention before giving instructions
• Pre-tutor and review key vocabulary - New word targets should be identified which are linked to ongoing classroom topics and activities
• Teachers monitoring their own level of language with regard to length, speed and complexity. 
• Break down instructions into short chunks of information.  It is often helpful to use the cues first, next and last - with gestures if possible.
• Praise good listening behaviours
• Encourage active listening skills

Name: Luke         Age: 7 years        Setting; Mainstream Primary School Y2

Strengths:
• Good at drawing
• Good at physical activity but not with the rules of games
• He enjoys TV and playing on the computer
• His speech is now clear even to the unfamiliar listener
• Follows visual prompts from peers
• Can decode individual written words
• Is able follow spoken instructions

 Areas of Need
• Difficulty sequencing stories and numbers
• Struggles to formulate complete oral sentences
• Unable to use grammar appropriately e.g., verb tenses
• Is very frustrated and sometimes physically lashes out
• Is aware of difficulty
• Struggles to recall specific words
• Unable to write sentences to teacher direction

Impact on Learning:
• Unable to access literacy curriculum
• Reluctant to participate in class discussion
• Limited ability to understand narrative - both orally and written
• All areas of the curriculum affected
• Unable to prove understanding

Impact on social development:
• Unable to join in social conversations in playground

Emotional behaviour
• Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
• Frustrated with occasional outburst of aggression

Organisational
• Needs additional prompts - visual and practical demonstration

Classroom Strategies
• Introduce visual support to help pupils understand which elements are needed within a sentence - incorporating colour coding
• Provide models of sentences that include identified target
• Use a variety of story plans to support both sentence construction skills and the development of early narrative skills.  Include beginning, middle, end, key questions (who, when, where, what) and character's feelings.
• Model sentences and work on key phrases to help express opinions
• Do not correct a child's poor grammar; rather use the correct form when replying.
• Pre-tutor and review key vocabulary - new word targets should be identified which are linked to on-going classroom topics and activities
• Teachers monitoring their own level of language with regard to length, speed and complexity to reinforce simple sentence constructions

Name: Aiden      Age: 6 years   Setting; Mainstream Primary School Y1

Strengths:
• Enjoys being with friends and is popular
• Enjoys physical activity and has good gross and fine motor skills
• Enjoys building with Lego
• Has lots to say
• Mother can interpret his vocal expressions - due to his good intonation and familiarity
• Age appropriate receptive vocabulary

Areas of Need
• Completely unintelligible to an unfamiliar listener
• May be unaware of his degree of difficulty
• Limited phonic awareness

Impact on Learning:
• Unable to express himself appropriately to his peers and class teachers
• Reduced access to basic literacy skills
• Limited ability to prove his understanding of the curriculum
• All areas of the curriculum affected

Indirect Interventions
• Don't pretend to understand but encourage him to express himself using gesture
• Help your understanding by having a context/home school diary
• Value his strengths to maintain his self esteem


Direct Intervention
• Check that his hearing is within normal limits
• Refer to Speech and Language Therapy
• Work on listening skills - i.e. Letters and Sound - to increase auditory awareness and discrimination

Name: Harry       Age 11     Setting; Mainstream Primary School

Strengths:
• He likes PE
• He is fluent at reading
• He can be interested in specific topics and learns factual information by rote.
• He learns social rules
• He enjoys IT and is proficient

Areas of Need
• Attention control and auditory memory is limited
• Slow to process language
• Reading comprehension is significantly lower than reading accuracy skills
• Can formulate complex sentences but the content and use is at times inappropriate
• Weak verbal reasoning skills- tends to interpret information literally
• Struggles to be successfully involved in group activities
• Struggles at playtimes and unstructured times
• Often interprets language literally
• Sometimes misinterprets non-verbal signals
• Can react aggressively

Impact on Learning:
• Unable to follow instructions and start tasks without support
• Difficulty in learning new complex and abstract vocabulary
• Unable to select key information
• Difficulty with group tasks
• Struggles with inference and prediction

Impact on social development:
• Difficulty to form and sustain friendships and relationships
• Misinterpretation of communication intent - can lead to frustration and aggression

Emotional behaviour
• Some understanding and expression of emotions and feelings but can misinterpret subtleties

Organisational
• Easily loses equipment

Classroom Strategies
• Use plain English
• Provide task organisers
• May need step by step instructions
• Check comprehension regularly
• Prioritise understanding and use of key vocabulary
• Forewarn of changes to staff, room and timetable
• Avoid idiom and use of sarcasm
• Teach social rules and expectations- may require small group social skills opportunities
• Support generalisation across the school and support collaborative work
• May require support for less structured times of the day

Name: Bradley       Age 11    Setting; Mainstream Secondary School

Strengths:
• Enjoys physical activity and takes part in a number of sports
• Enjoys being with friends and is popular with his peers
• Enjoys practical lessons and can copy demonstrations

Areas of Need
• Poor listening memory
• Slow to process and often looks confused
• Has a limited vocabulary
• Difficulties following instructions and learning new concepts

Impact on Learning:
• Unable to follow instructions and complete any work unaided
• Difficulty understanding mathematical language and processes
• Difficulty generalising and delays in reading skills
• All areas of the curriculum affected

Impact on social development:
• Slow to join in conversations and take part in class discussion

Emotional behaviour
• Low self-esteem and lack of confidence

Organisational
• Needs additional prompts - visual and practical demonstration

Key strategies:
• Gain attention and provide clear, concise instructions using plain English
• Repeat and rephrase as necessary and support visually and practically
• Provide task organisers to support memory and independence
• Check understanding of key concepts and vocabulary
• Explicitly teach prioritised key vocabulary
• Slow down the pace of delivery

Name: Charlotte      Age 15    Setting; Mainstream Secondary School

Strengths:
• Has sporting ability and represents her school in running and netball competitions
• Enjoys practical based subjects- has chosen Art and Technology as KS4 options
• Sociable and polite
• Recognised for her maturity and ability to take on responsibilities

Areas of Need
• Weak working memory and sequencing skills
• Difficulties talking in detail and providing specific information
• Word finding difficulties
• History of speech clarity and processing difficulties
• Weak phonological skills affecting the development of literacy (reading, spelling and writing)

Impact on Learning:
• Delayed literacy skills - reading age approximately 7-8 years
• Delayed basic numeracy skills- unable to remember mathematical facts such as multiplication
• Difficulty organising and recording ideas

Impact on social development:
• Usually quiet and reluctant to join in discussions or conversations other than with familiar people
• Can be chatty when talking about soaps, gossiping with friends


Emotional behaviour
• Lacks confidence in learning situations
• Can be reluctant in new situations

Organisational
• Often needs rehearsal in small groups before talking at whole class level

Key strategies:
• Provide planning and rehearsal opportunities to support group discussion
• Provide additional opportunities to talk with adults and support small group speaking and listening
• Pre-teach and support recall of specific vocabulary and use of words in sentences
• Provide visual planning frameworks to support spoken and written language
• Provide alternative recording methods
• Simultaneously provide a specific literacy programme to maintain progress

Name: Kayleigh     Age 12    Setting; Mainstream Secondary School

Strengths:
• Average attainment in core subjects
• Good readings skills - tends to learn through a "whole word" approach
• Good observational skills

Areas of Need
• History of speech clarity and processing difficulties
• Anxiety when put on the spot to answer questions or explain ideas
• Finds hand writing skills difficult - prefers to use word processing
• Avoids saying words with the specific sounds that she finds difficult to produce
• Hesitant and difficulty formulating full sentences
• Evidence of stammering especially when under pressure

Impact on Learning:
• Difficulty expressing ideas and talking about learning
• Finds written recording difficult
• Difficulties sharing ideas with others and joining in some lessons - e.g. drama

Impact on social development:
• Tends to be quiet and has a restricted yet trusted group of friends
• Over-reliance on friends to speak on her behalf


Emotional behaviour
• Can be easily frustrated when others ask her to repeat or don't understand immediately
• Lacks confidence in learning situations
• Can be reluctant in new situations

Organisational
• Often needs rehearsal in small groups before talking at whole class level

Key strategies:
• Follow specific advice of a speech and language therapist
• Positive recognition of verbal contribution including constructive verbal feedback from others essential - being sensitive to the pupil's need, for example speaking multisyllabic words
• Opportunities to speak in less pressurised situations and/or with familiar adults and trusted peers
• Use of visual and practical ways of contributing
• Allow additional thinking time to formulate spoken language
• Provide additional time to rehearse oral contributions
•  Provide visual planning frameworks to support spoken and written language
• Provide alternative recording methods
• Simultaneously provide a specific literacy programme to maintain progress
• Be aware and take advice on the teaching of phonics from the speech and language therapist

Name: Simon       Age 14    Setting; Mainstream Secondary School

Strengths:
• He likes Geography and ICT.
• He is fluent at reading
• He can be interested in specific topics and learns factual information by rote.
• He learns social rules and has a strong understanding of right and wrong.

Areas of Need
• Attention control and auditory memory is limited
• Slow to process language
• Reading comprehension is lower than reading accuracy skills
• Can formulate complex sentences but the content is confused
• Weak verbal reasoning skills - tends to interpret information literally
• Speaks to a few selected friends in the learning support base at break-time but prefers computer games

Impact on Learning:
• Unable to follow instructions and start tasks without support
• Difficulty in learning new complex and abstract vocabulary
• Unable to select key information for revision purposes and complete written work
• Difficulty with collaborative work and negotiation

Impact on social development:
• Difficulty forming and sustaining friendships and relationships
• Misinterpretation of communication intent - can lead to frustration and disagreements with others

Emotional behaviour
• Difficulty understanding and expressing emotions and feelings
• Can be distant and aloof
• Low self-esteem.
• Has been referred to CAMHS

Organisational
• Easily loses equipment and forgets to bring/use planner in school

Key strategies:
• Clear and consistent instructions
• Use plain English
• Provide task organisers and teach how to use
• May need step by step instructions
• Check comprehension regularly
• Prioritise understanding and use of key vocabulary
• Forewarn of changes to staff, room and timetable
• Avoid idiom and use of sarcasm
• Teach social rules and expectations- may require small group social skills opportunities
• Support generalisation across the school and support collaborative work
• May require support for less structured times of the day