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Alternative & Augmentative Communication ( AAC)

 When someone uses a different means of communication to support their understanding and or spoken language, e.g. signing, pictures.

Auditory Discrimination 

The ability to recognise and distinguish similarities and differences between speech sounds.

Auditory Memory

The ability to process and retain heard information for long enough to act on it (sometimes called Short-term auditory memory).

British Sign Language (BSL)

BSL is a visual language system which has its own grammar. It's a language in its own right.

Communication Rich Environment 

A communication rich environment uses lots of different strategies to make communication as easy, effective and enjoyable as possible. It should provide opportunities for everyone to talk, listen, understand and take part, in whatever way they are able to. 

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

When a child has a language disorder that is not associated with a known condition such as autism spectrum disorder. This cannot be diagnosed until the child is over 5 years of age.


Muscle weakness which affects someone’s ability to make accurate speech sounds. Speech can sound slurred.


Difficulty producing fluent speech. Speech might include sound and word repetitions, and or facial grimaces ( also referred to as stammer/stutter).


A motor speech disorder which makes it difficult to plan and use speech sounds. Speech may include the inconsistent use of sounds.


Repetition of another’s speech sounds or language in a non-meaningful way.

Glue Ear

When the middle part of the ear fills up with fluid. This can cause temporary hearing loss. It is also referred to as otitis media or conductive hearing loss.


A feature of speech when Speech sounds are affected by too much air flow down the nose.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Specific targets or strategies put in place by a school or preschool setting to aid a child’s access to the curriculum.

Information Carrying Words (ICW)

The number of key words that must be understood for the overall meaning of a spoken or signed utterance to be carried out e.g. “Show me the teddy's nose” = 2ICW (also known as key words).


The rhythm of how we speak.

Language Delay

Language development that is following a normal pattern, but of a younger child. Development occurs at a slower rate.

Language Disorder

Language development that follows an irregular pattern.


A simplified sign and symbol system based on British Sign Language ( BSL) and natural gesture. Often used to support language understanding and expression. 


Repeating the child’s sentence/ sign and thus providing an example of accurate words and phrases, to hear without the expectation for them to repeat.

Non-verbal Communication

The ways we communicate that don’t use speech e.g the way you listen, gesture, look, move, and react.


The patterns of sounds in a language and how they are used.


Phonological Awareness

The awareness of sounds within spoken words, this includes identifying syllables, rhymes and individual sounds.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

An alternative/augmentative communication system developed in the USA. The primary aim of PECS is to teach functional communication, by someone exchanging pictures to initiate communication. 


The rules about how we use language in social situations, including the use of eye contact, turn taking, initiation of conversation, and maintaining a topic of conversation.

Pre-linguistic Skills

Skills that develop before language and are needed for communication development e.g. eye contact, turn taking, pretend play.

Selective Mutism

When a child chooses not to speak in certain situations or to certain people although they have the ability to do so.

Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder

Difficulties with conversational interaction, such as initiating appropriate topics of conversation, and understanding non-literal meanings e.g. “It’s raining cats and dogs”.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo)

A teacher or early years staff member who coordinates the provision for children with special educational needs or disabilities in their setting.

Speech and Language Therapist (SLT)

A qualified healthcare professional with graduate level training and registered to practice with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Speech & Language Therapy (SaLT) 

Speech and language therapy provides treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing. 

Speech Delay

When a child’s speech develops following a normal pattern, but at a slower rate, than expected.

Speech Disorder

When a child’s speech develops following an unusual pattern.

Transfer of Care

When the responsibility for a specific aspect of a child's care is transferred from one professional to another, for example from a Speech and Language Therapist to a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo).


Being able to make sense of what is said, signed or written (also referred to as comprehension or receptive language).

Visual Timetable

The use of pictures and/or objects to represent different parts of a school day or child's daily routine.

Word Finding Difficulties

Inability to reliably retrieve a known target word from memory.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Norfolk & Waveney Speech & Language Therapy Service by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 


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