Supporting children with communication difficulties in mainstream classes

Contact: Neil Thompson

For immediate release: 27th May 2020

Selected mainstream schools will have the opportunity to get free support in using communication symbols with children with communication and learning difficulties in class.

We are conducting a short survey to look at the range of general strategies that mainstream teachers use to support children who struggle to access lessons. These include children with communication, learning or literacy difficulties.

Specialist teachers and speech and language therapists often recommend using visuals to support these children, and recent research backs up this recommendation (1). However it is often difficult for teachers to use this strategy effectively in practice. We are particularly keen to find out about teachersā€™ use of communication symbols and what barriers lie in the way of their use.

Following on from the survey we hope to offer selected mainstream schools free support and software for using symbols in a way that can be easily and painlessly integrated into existing lesson planning and delivery.

Fill in the survey:

More information about the proposed project:

Background information

  • The incidence of special educational needs amongst children across the UK is around 15% (2) (3) (4).
  • A typical classroom will have 3-4 children with a known special need which in many cases will impact on reading and/or communication.
  • Accessing lessons through text for these children will be difficult and can lead to disengagement from lessons.
  • As children return to school after months at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be even more important that strong supports are in place to help them with the new routine ā€“ communication symbols can play a key role in strengthening this support.
  • About communication symbols:

Commtap CIC

Commtap CIC is a not for profit company which supports those who support children and adults with communication difficulties.

It does this through:



1. Evidence for the effectiveness of visual supports in helping children with disabilities access the mainstream primary school curriculum. Foster-Cohen, Susan and Mirfin-Veitch, Brigit. 2, s.l. : NASEN, 2017, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, Vol. 17, pp. 79-86.

2. UK Government. National Statistics Special educational needs in England: January 2018. GOV.UK. [Online] 8 August 2018. [Cited: 3 July 2019.]

3. Scottish Government. School Pupil Census 2013. STATISTICS.GOV.SCOT. [Online] 2013. [Cited: 03 07 2019.]

4. Wales Government. Special educational needs. StatsWales. [Online] 2016. [Cited: 3 July 2019.]