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Speak out on speech impairment

The charity Afasic has made a plea to Scottish families whose children have the "hidden disability" of speech and language impairment to come forward with their experiences.

Afasic estimates that more than a million children and young people are affected in the UK, potentially representing two children in an average classroom.

A Scottish Executive review of speech and language therapy for children suggested that around one in 200 children with a record of needs requires help and that another 8 per cent of children require periodic support.

Key issues highlighted in the review include:

* Waiting times for children to be assessed and receive therapy.

* A shortage of experienced therapists.

* High rates of absence - leaving children unsupported.

* Recruitment and retention "to meet the needs of children in an inclusive school system".

Linda Lascelles, Afasic's chief executive, said: "We hope that parents of children with speech and language disorders will help us with the survey by logging on to www.afasic.org.uksurvey and telling us their experiences."

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