By Kay Mogford-Bevan, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Dept. of Speech, Sunderland Education Authority
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Extra info for Child language disability: implications in an educational setting
As a result, only a few specialised teachers were involved in this aspect of special education. Following implementation of the 1981 Act, their needs have been brought to the attention of a much larger number of teachers. Firstly, more children with less severe forms of disability are being recognised in mainstream schools and, secondly, children with more severe disorders are being integrated into mainstream classrooms (Sharron, 1988). As a result of both these developments, the size of the problem is also becoming clearer.
Other contributors to this book, namely Locke and Corcoran, have a more detailed discussion of numbers of children with specific language disabilities. These numbers are little more than estimates that vary with the age of the population studied and the type of difficulties identified and there is some reason to believe that in the past the size of the problem has been underestimated (Enderby & Phillip, 1986). As the scale of the problem in educational terms is revealed, the inadequacy of our current ability to respond to these special needs in terms of human resources and understanding is also made more apparent.
Even five years ago, a discussion of developmental language difficulties would have been regarded as of marginal relevance to teachers in mainstream primary schools or even teachers in special education. Elizabeth Browning, former chairman of AFASIC, writing in March 1983, complains that 'failure in language development has been treated for so long with so much painful neglect'. She points out that in special education, while the needs of children with physical, sensory, or mental disabilities are always apparently recognised without argument, for the specifically speech and language disordered, cases have to be made, proved, fought and recognition and understanding won before anyone is prepared to even consider appropriate action to help the afflicted child.