BACD is pleased to join over 60 organisations to endorse the ATLAS Leiden Declaration: Think Language First! manifesto, which was launched at the House of Lords on 30 January 2024.
We want a world in which every child and young person has equal opportunities to fulfil their potential. Language is the gateway to lifelong wellbeing, including educational attainment. However, around 10% of school-age children have language difficulties, either on their own (Developmental Language Disorder) or in association with other diagnoses such as autism or learning disabilities. Deafness and hearing loss, too, often leads to delayed and atypical language development in children, and even to language deprivation, since they commonly have no access to sign language early enough. Also, living in areas of social disadvantage is associated with an increased prevalence of language difficulties. Furthermore, even though multilingualism is positive in itself, growing up with more than one language has associated challenges that impact large numbers of children and young people. Yet language needs are often not recognized, or are attributed to other causes.
We are calling for:
- all types of language needs to be recognized and understood;
- diagnosis for language difficulties that does not miss a single child or young person;
- language difficulties to be fully acknowledged as a disability wherever appropriate;
- every child who needs it, to have access to adequate language support throughout the school journey.
- the removal of barriers that children and young people with communication difficulties face